Crested China

Although crested china was once considered to be worthless, there are now several thousand avid collectors in the UK alone – and prices have risen accordingly. The Goss factory in Stoke-on-Trent first produced crested china in the late 1880s, modelling most of their wares on precise historical shapes copied from museums up and down the country.

Seeing the success of the Goss factory many other companies followed suit. They produced a multitude of novelty items up until the 1930s. Some German manufacturers produced souvenirs very cheaply, if somewhat crudely. This led to many outlets to advertise ‘Best English China at Foreign Prices’. Tastes then changed and it is estimated that around 90 per cent of crested china was destroyed – and the remaining 10 per cent relegated to the attic. Crested china started to enjoy a revival during the 1970s, which continues to this day.

Crested china is being collected today for various reasons – some collectors like the fact that crested china comes in so many different shapes, which tells a graphic story of social and political trends of the early part of the century.  When you look at a model of the Edwardian bathing machine you can’t help but wonder how shocked the Edwardians would have been if they could have seen today’s sun worshippers.

There are models of Edwardian shoes, treadle sewing machines, motor spirit cans, coal scuttles, folding cameras and stick telephones.  Sundials and grandfather clocks were popular, both modelled with a variety of charming inscriptions, such as ‘Life’s but a walking shadow’.  Candle snuffers can be found in many forms, from simple cones to lighthouses.  Suffragette busts and hand bells were made, usually double faced.  One side would be an old woman with the inscription ‘Votes for Women’, the other side an attractive young girl inscribed ‘This one shall have the vote’.  John Bull and his dog were a popular patriotic piece and after the war the Carlton factory modelled John Citizen, bending under the weight of a sack inscribed ‘Housing, Unemployment, Taxes’.

With the advent of the First World War interest dwindled and many factories turned to military models.  Subjects were chosen from the simple shell to a model inscribed ‘Tommies Dug-out somewhere in France’.  Airships, Zeppelins, monoplanes and biplanes can all be found.  Tanks often carried the inscription ‘H.M.L.S.’ standing for ‘His Majesty’s Landship’.  There is even a model of Tommy driving his steam-roller over the Kaiser, inscribed ‘To Berlin’ – you would need to pay in excess of £700, if you can find one, not many survive in perfect condition.

Many collectors search out everything with one particular coat of arms.  Originally these would all have been sold in the same town.  The rarer the coat of arms, the greater the joy when you find one in an antique shop or a jumble sale.  Many museums now have their own small collections.  Others collect just one particular theme.  Some collectors will only collect Goss, saying that the precise nature of the design and the finish is far superior to other manufacturers

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