Staffordshire dogs are collectible ceramics from the Victorian Era. They were displayed and admired on mantels from the 1840’s through the 1890’s and are highly sought after collectibles today. Staffordshire dogs are originally from the County of Staffordshire in England, where many pottery companies are located. The peak of their popularity was at the end of the 19th century. While other animal ceramics were produced by the Staffordshire artisans, the most popular Staffordshire figurine is the spaniel, partly because it was a direct connection to Queen Victoria and her most loved childhood companion, Dash, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. King Charles II, for which King Charles Cavalier Spaniels were named, constantly surrounded himself with the dogs and gave them free run at court. However, it was Queen Victoria who really brought the King Charles Cavalier Spaniels to prominence because of her love for the breed. On the day of her coronation, Queen Victoria bolted out of Buckingham Palace to perform an important duty, which turned out to be giving her beloved Dash his bath, something all animal lovers can relate to! This love that Queen Victoria had for Dash and King Charles Cavalier spaniels sparked the creativity of the Staffordshire artisans.
I started collecting Staffordshire pottery miniature dogs because I found a small collection of tiny bronze poodles in a New York City antique store, and fell in love with the idea of having a miniature poodle collection. After getting 4-5 little bronze poodles, I was eager to grow my miniature poodle collection and came across miniature pottery dogs, which turned out to be Staffordshire pottery. I mostly collect the miniature poodles, but not in pairs. A little bit later, I came across an auction catalog where I found a miniature William and Mary cupboard that would be the perfect home for all my miniature dogs!
I love the folklore surrounding the Staffordshire pottery. The Victorian tales goes that there were secret messages between women and their lovers by the way Staffordshire spaniel figurines were placed on their windowsills. If the spaniels were placed back to back, it meant that her husband was home. However, if the spaniels were placed face to face, it meant that her husband was away, welcoming her lover into her house!
What collections do you have in your home? Leave a comment below!