MANY A MANTEL in the Western world boasts a pair of Staffordshire figures, earthenware characters made in the pottery towns of central England during the Industrial Revolution. The subjects were generally made in pairs and often plain-backed, for viewing from one side only. Chief colors were orange and underglaze blue.
Most familiar today were those figures made between 1837, when Victoria came to the throne, and the end of that century. The average Victorian tended to be patriotic, sentimental and a great lover of animals. And more than simply providing him with decoration, Staffordshire figures kept him abreast of current affairs. Today these figures form a unique chronicle of the age of Victoria, setting down royal marriages and births, glorious military, political and scientific victories--and defeats--and heroes and heroines to make every Englishman proud.
The largest single group of Staffordshire figures was made up of the royal family. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had four sons and five daughters, most of whom were modeled at least twice. In addition, there were innumerable soldiers and sailors, as the century had more than its share of conflicts: the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the Franco-Prussian War, the Egyptian and Sudan Campaigns and the Boer War among them.