Pairs of Staffordshire ceramic dogs, once commonplace on Victorian mantelpieces, are having a sudden resurgence with a boom in demand from a new generation.

The vintage marketplace Vinterior reports that searches for Staffordshire dog statues is up 115% year-on-year. When Vinterior launched a recent pop-up store in London’s Selfridges, it was the dogs not the Danish dining chairs that were the first items to sell out.

The antiques specialist, John Howard, is somewhat surprised but thrilled to see the Victoriana look back in vogue. “The market changed significantly around 10 years ago with the end of the Laura Ashley era. But now we are seeing demand for more kitsch pieces again. It’s a bit of a cool in-joke to have a pair,” he said.

The original inspiration for the ceramic animals is said to have been Queen Victoria’s beloved Kings Charles spaniel Dash.

Howard says the best quality Staffordshire dog statues were made by small potteries in Staffordshire from 1845 to 1870. Fashioned from press-moulded earthenware, they were hand-painted and many were given glass eyes. From the 1900s onwards they were mass-produced and the quality dropped. However, they are not necessarily “fake”: many were made using original moulds, but the detailing is more blurred.

Lucy Ward, Vinterior’s brand director, said there were two distinct groups buying the dogs – collectors with a long-term passion and the younger Instagram and TikTok generation. She explains the latter love the dogs’ playful and whimsical appearance and want to inject a touch of humour to their homes.

The architect and interior designer Ben Pentreath falls into the former camp. He bought his first pair more than 15 years ago from a junk shop in Dorchester. They sit proudly on his mantelpiece at home in Dorset, while eight other pairs and six singles are peppered around the house.

Until recently, the standard hallmarks of a millennial home have veered towards the minimal. Think grey walls, a potted fiddle-leaf fig and the ultimate influencer signifier – a bum/boob-shaped vase. The Wall Street Journal described it as “a colourless existence”. But maybe now Scandi is out, chintz is in.

Describing the four-legged knick-knack’s comeback as “cyclical”, Pentreath said: “Everyone went mad for them in the late 60s and early 70s, when the whole world went into full on Victoriana-mode. That all went into the bin in the 80s and 90s along with Morris & Co fabrics and seagrass carpets. Just for now, all that is back in taste.’

He compares it to the 1970s when “everyone freaked out about imminent global collapse. Nothing is more reassuring than a pair of dogs smiling at you happily from your mantlepiece as if to say it will all be OK in the end.”

This naff-to-nostalgic trend is having a knock-on effect on prices. Howard says that before, a standard pair dating from the 1880s could easily be picked up for £120. Listings online now average about £400.

skip past newsletter promotion

Pentreath said he had also come across more fakes with “no air holes in the base, and not quite authentic weathering, chips and dings”.

When it comes to choosing between different genuine versions, Howard said, “the better ones have certain features that distinguish them from the mundane”. He suggested searching for “a front leg that is separately moulded, a curly tail and a defined nose with some George Michael-esque stubble”.

One of his customers, a former rock star, has more than 300 pairs but only buys pairs with pink noses. “I always say look at the face. It’s like looking at a bloke. Pick one you like. You’re going to be staring at it for a long time.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *