Antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a close-up look at Beswick pottery...
Last week we talked about Pendelfins; instantly recognisable and highly collectable ornaments. Similarly, this week we are going to look at Beswick, again instantly recognisable and highly prized amongst collectors.
When one thinks of collectable porcelain animals, one immediately thinks of Beswick, and rightly so. The Beswick name has been well known for more than 100 years for high-quality wares, animal themes and their
affordability (most items are available for under £100).
The Beswick Pottery was founded by James Wright Beswick in 1894. Based in Chell, North Staffordshire, he quickly earned a reputation as a potter who combined quality with economy and invested heavily in his business. Even during the First World War, when other manufacturers were struggling, Beswick’s use of clay quadrupled.
James Wright Beswick died in 1920. His son, John, took over the business and, like his father, continued to invest in new manufacturing techniques and processes.
When John died in 1934, his son Ewart took the helm. The company began to focus seriously on the manufacture of animal figures.
The very first horse model, Bois Rousell, was designed by Arthur Greddington in 1939. It was for animal figures such as this that Beswick was to
become best known. By 1944 animals were a mainstay of the company’s business.
They produced animal models, particularly of famous racehorses and champion dogs, as well as a range of quirky animal
figures including a variety of birds, animals (both wild and domestic) and fish. They also turned their hand to toby jugs, salad ware and cottage ware.
The most collectable
Beswick figures are the earliest ones, the first versions or those with colour variations (Sometimes the frogs were green and sometimes they were brown.) A version still in production might cost £50, but a discontinued version could be worth well over £100.
Having no children to leave the business to, Ewart retired and sold up in 1969 to Royal Doulton. They continued to produce new models but reduced the number of colour ways and withdrew numerous pieces.
At the end of 2002, Royal Doulton ended the production of all Beswick merchandise, which became the end of an era for the pottery industry.