blog (1) Two similar Staffordshire Dogs, King Charles Spaniels from the mid-1900s.
Dreweatts & Bloomsbury

The Staffordshire dogs were once one of the hottest items of décor in England and Scotland in the 19th century. The Staffordshire figurines were designed to stand on the mantelpiece as beautiful and quirky interior accessories but according to the story, they could also have a completely different function. The figurines are fften depicted as King Charles Spaniels, a breed that was appreciated by the English court since the 17th century and became popular in the 1840s during Queen Victoria's reign. These figurines were also made in the form of completely different, much more exotic animals, such as lions, tigers and zebras.

blog Zebras made at Staffordshire porcelain factory during the mid-1900s.
Dreweatts & Bloomsbury


blog (1) These wonderful lions and tigers from the 1820's are on sale at Christie's

The company is named after the great production that arose in the porcelain factory in Staffordshire from the 1720s onwards. Pieces were also produced on a much smaller scale at other factories around Britian.

So how come the hand-painted dog figures had a slightly more risqué reputation during the Victorian period? Legend has it that the Staffordshire dogs, also called Wally dogs in Scotland, moved from the mantelpiece to the windows to show off their newfound bourgeoisie. There they stood by the welcoming faces outwards and the tails against each other when the man of the house was at home. When the man of the house went out on the sea or on trips the wives turned the dogs so they stood face to face, which was considered to be indication to her lover that it was "safe" for him to court her.

Post World War II, Swedish antiques dealers bought Staffordshire figurines in large quantities which they sold as decorative interior design objects. Estate divisions and careless acts has unfortunately led to one figurine being separated from the other one and today it is quite rare to find intact couples in perfect condition from the 18/19th century.

blog (2) A copy made of an old model

Today Staffordshire figures are regarded as attractive collectibles and in the US, a really good pair of Staffordshire figures costs thousands of dollars.

Check out more Staffordshire figures on Barnebys.

In Barnebys archives for previous realized prices at auctions around the world, you will find Staffordshire dogs and other figurines and crafts from Staffordshire!