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Crested China
(Collecting heraldic porcelain miniatures)

Friday, 5th January 2002

Collecting heraldic porcelain miniatures, or crested china as it is now popularly known, became a national craze in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. During the period of itís production, around 1880 to1930, it is thought that around 90% of all homes contained some pieces.  Indeed, no holiday or seaside outing was complete without the purchase of some piece of souvenir porcelain.

The introduction of Bank holidays in 1871, paid holidays for workers and improved wages, combined with improved travel facilities such as trains, paddlesteamers and charabancs, boosted the sales of souvenirs considerably.  

During the 1880ís the pottery firm of W. H. Goss of Stoke-on-Trent produced a new line Ė miniature souvenir wear for Queen Victoriaís jubilees, and for pupils of public schools. Then the eldest son of the Goss family, Adolphus, hit on the idea of making miniatures of famous antiquities that could be seen in museums all over the country, and decorating them with relevant coats of arms. Soon agents were able to order any of the shaped models with their own respective local arms. Thus a national craze was initiated. By the mid 1890ís Goss were also producing miniature cottages, teasets, crosses, animals and fonts.  

Time were hard for the British pottery industry in the 1880ís and 1890ís , and so hundreds of other manufacturers jumped onto the bandwagon to cash in on Gossís prosperity and fame. While Goss kept more to the representation of objects of historic importance, other pottery firms lead the way in producing more light-hearted often comical or whimsical souvenirs of every conceivable theme. These included hats, shoes, alcohol related objects, black cats , musical instruments, animals , pillar boxes, modes of transport and even everyday domestic objects.  

 

The Germans, Czechoslovakian and Austrian potteries flooded the British market with their souvenir wares. They used hard paste porcelain or white bisque which was less expensive to produce than porcelain. This combined with modern up to date kilns and cheap labour meant that even with the export costs, they were able to supply wares more cheaply than British potteries, and so were very successful commercially. At the peak of its popularity crested china could be purchased from newspaper stands at railway stations, lending libraries, tea rooms, fancy goods shops , chemists, specialist china shops and even Boots and W.H.Smiths.  

The First World War saw the production of a whole new set of souvenir models of a military nature, including tanks, guns, boats, shells, grenades and military figures. However, after peace had been signed in 1919 the mood of the nation changed , and the craze for crested china began to decline. Indeed many collections were either packed away in boxes in attics, or even consigned to the dustbin! It is quite possible that only 10% of the models originally produced are now in existence.  

Toad Rock at Tunbridge WellsI started collecting Crested China some years ago. Itís funny that I hated history when I was at school, but have always loved looking around museum and antique shops. I wanted to collect antiques of some kind, but didnít have much money. Also space was a consideration. I decided to collect crested china as it was relatively cheap, and being small, many pieces will fit into a small wall cupboard. To date I have 6 wall cupboards housing some 300 pieces! It also looks very colourful en masse.  

Crested China collecting can appeal to a wide range of people as there is such a broad band of themes to choose from. My collection is just a mixture of all sorts, but one could collect just one type or group of models, i.e. boots and shoes, Great War models, animals etc or just models with a particular place crest. Whatever you decide on, it can be a fascinating and absorbing hobby . Although prices have risen somewhat over the years, there are still bargains to be unearthed at boot sales, antique fairs , antique & junk shops and the like. Naturally as with everything else, condition is all important where the value of a piece is concerned. Chips and cracks will devalue a  piece by 50 to 75%. Consequently all pieces should be carefully checked before purchase, and any damage should be reflected in the price.  

If you want to know more about Goss and Crested China, you may wish to read the following books:-

  • Crested China by Sandy Andrews.
  • The Price Guide To Crested China by Nicholas Pine.
  • The Concise Encyclopaedia And Price Guide To Goss China by Nicholas Pine.

All produced by Milestone Publications.

Recommended web site;-Goss and  Crested China Club at http://www.gosscollectorsclub.org/ Historical information on Goss can be found at  www.iist.unu.edu/~rm/goss/goss.html

Happy collecting!

Love

If you are a collector, of Crested China or anything else, we would love to hear from you.
Tell us about your collection, especially if it is interesting, unusual or amusing.

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Page Last Updated: 15/09/2000
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