Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn, takes a look at some collectables from Royal Doulton
In light of the school holidays we are celebrating children’s collectables. Brambly Hedge, whilst childlike in its characters, enjoys a strong marketplace with adult collectors and there’s nothing childish about its value, which is increasing all the time.
The charming world of Brambly Hedge has become part of the imaginative life of both young and old all over the world. The timeless stories of hedgerow life are portrayed with beautiful illustrations by British author, Jill Barklem.
Her books follow the adventures of Wilfred and Primrose, two mice who inhabit an idyllic rural community, where old values flourish and self-sufficiency is the order of the day.
Observing woodland scenes through the changing seasons at her home in Epping Forest gave Jill the inspiration for four “Seasonal” books featuring the little mice. Published in 1980, the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Stories sold millions of copies in 13 languages, and were followed by more in the series.
Jill insisted she was there literally by the designers’ side as the little mice were brought to life by Royal Doulton. She wanted the vitality and detail of her intricate illustrations retained in the collection of figurines, ensuring that the porcelain characters captured the full charm of the delightful mice family from her drawings.
As the collection of books increased so did Royal Doulton’s range of collectables. Yet the Brambly Hedge range is valued as more "limited edition" than for example Beatrix Potter collectables, with far fewer licensees producing figures. Testament to Brambly’s popularity are the large sums that discontinued pieces are fetching, over 10 times their original value, only 20 years after their release.
In Phillips’ recent Doulton sale, Brambly Hedge characters initially retailing around £15-£25 in the 80s fetched between £200 and £300 each. For those doing their homework, “Teasel” mice reached the highest bidding at around £300, closely followed by “Old Vole” and “Basil” mouse figures in the upper £200s.
Border Fine Arts Company resin Brambly Hedge figures are also worth looking out for, especially those made before the company was taken over by the Enesco Gift ware group.