Looking at the world of antiques with Allan Blackburn...
Lladró have become a household name for their fine porcelain figurines.
The company was founded in 1953 by three brothers, Juan, José and Vicente Lladró, in the village of Almácera, near Valencia, in Spain.
They gave up their work at a tiles factory and built a little Moorish kiln in the courtyard of the family home. Starting with items such as vases and jugs, it wasn’t until 1956 that they started producing the beautiful figurines for which they are now most famous.
A good many years have passed since the time when the Lladró brothers personally signed each one of their creations.
Back then, they had no idea that their surname, together with a flower and an ancient chemical symbol, was destined to become a famous trademark known around the world. Lladró figurines are made out of an original blend of hard-paste porcelain. The pale shades of browns, greys, whites and blues give the figures that famous Lladró look, although the glaze ingredients are an industry secret.
Testament to their worldwide popularity is the Lladró museum and gallery which opened 28 years ago and proudly stands on 57th Street in New York.
Despite its multinational profile, Lladró is still a family business. The original Lladró brothers withdrew from the board of directors at the end of 2003 and a new board was formed with two children from each of the three brothers. Over 2,000 people now work at Lladró, and their creations are exported to more than one hundred countries all around the world.
A word of warning to collectors: Lladró figurines are given two titles – one in English and the other in Spanish. Sometimes the names of the pieces can change throughout their run, so the same figurine can often end up with several titles.
Lladró is such a favourite with collectors that it is rare we get many pieces for sale at the centre and if when we do they don’t hang around for long. These gorgeous ornaments pictured are actually made by Nao. Nao is a brand of the Lladró group with its pieces in a similar style.
Nao is cheaper to buy, as their range is produced by the apprentices of Lladro, rather than the experts, who are reserved to work specially on Lladro items.