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How to Recognize Authentic Staffordshire Pottery

An intriguing legend surrounds Staffordshire’s dog figurines. The Victorian tale goes that spaniel figurines placed on the windowsill sent out a secret message. A woman would place the ornaments in her front window; if they were back to back, it meant her husband was at home. If the dogs faced each other, it meant her husband was out at sea, welcoming her lover in to the house.

The Staffordshire region (an industrial area with the towns Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton) started in the ceramic business in the 17th century thanks to an abundance of local natural materials.

Staffordshire dogs are some of the most reproduced figurines in the world.

Other animal figurines came out of the Staffordshire region, from domesticated dogs to wild animals like zebras, lions, elephants, and more. You can also find figures of people and scenes.

An archer circa 1825, via Teapotgeorge on Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0

An archer circa 1825, via Teapotgeorge on Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0

Do you own what might be a Staffordshire figure, or are you on the lookout to own one? Here’s how to tell the difference between authentic and reproduction Staffordshire figures.

  1. A big difference is that old figures were made in press molds vs. the more modern slip molds. The uniform dime size holes from slip casts at the base prove a modern reproduction.
  2. Color on the figurine. Authentic pieces will have soft gold trim, likely with some wear. Reproductions are more likely to have bright and shiny gold instead.
  3. Any figurines with labels that say “Made in England”, “Genuine Staffordshire”, or “Ye Olde Staffordshire” are reproductions.
  4. Along the same vein, scratching in the glaze on the base of the figure indicates that a manufacturing mark has been scratched off, implying a reproduction.
  5. Authentic Staffordshire might very well have some crazing, but if the piece has a uniform crazing pattern or crazing all over, it’s probably not original.
  6. Older Staffordshire often have dirt ground in that’s difficult to remove. But some pieces have a “pattern” of dirt or even sprayed-on dirt to make the piece look old – in which case, it’s obviously not genuine.
  7. Dog figurines come in pairs, but once again, any uniformity gives it away. Mass-produced figures have the exact same look, but old, authentic pieces will have slight variations from being handmade. Dogs that look like exact mirror images side by side are reproductions.

When it comes to deciding the authenticity of a piece, bringing it to a professional will give you the final word. But using your own common sense will also get you far.

Please note: we do not have any experts here who can examine, validate, or value any Staffordshire dogs. Please check with your local ceramics experts.

 

24 Responses to “How to Recognize Authentic Staffordshire Pottery”

  1. Josephine Pearson

    I have a Staffordshire figurine (28cm) of two school children and a goose. It has vague seams at the sides and a hole in the upper back. The flat back has a ‘dimpled’ effect on the china surface. The faces are clear and not blurred. Can anyone advise what else I should look for to see it is a genuine or fake. It was purchased from an old secondhand shop in Western Australia in 1968.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      Thank you for your message. Aside from the things mentioned in this blog, we do not have any further advice. We are not experts in Staffordshire Pottery, just come across it once in a while and know that it can be hard to verify. I would recommend talking to a local expert, if you have one, who could look at the piece. Best of luck!

      Reply
  2. Albany Nana

    I have a pair of staffordshire dogs approximately 12 inches tall. They are white with worn gold spots. One dog has a chain and pendant, the other just as pendant.
    I also have a small pair, approximately 3-4 inches tall that have black patches and black ears. Both pair have small holes on the back side, but no markings on bottom.
    I don’t know the $ value, but they have great sentimental value as my oldest sister had many antiques and left these to me when she passed away. We had a running joke between us about these figurines because she thought they were beautiful and elegant. I, on the other hand, always told her they were ugly. I now believe them to be very precious as they hold great memories of my sister.

    Reply
  3. Mandy Harrison

    I own two of Staffordshire Dog figurines they are Black an White with the gold chains on both just had them looked at and was told they are the genuine antique ones. Would you be able to advise me on if they would be worth anything.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, our focus is coins and stamps; we put up this post for general interest, and don’t have any expertise on the subject. Best of luck in your search!

      Reply
  4. Deirdre. Byrne

    I have a large rooster and hen they are very old and heavy they look like Staffordshire but iv never came across any picture of anything like these apart frm still some ground in dirt they are perfect no markings but have small hole in base how would I know if they Staffordshire or not

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t have any experts on those here. I hope you’re able to find the information you’re looking for!

      Reply
  5. Deb Herbert

    are the Staffordshire 12 in. dogs made in Portugal marked with a number and “made in Portugal” in the glaze at the bottom have any value?

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t have any experts in this area at the moment. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

      Reply
    • Mary Met

      Staffordshire is a county in England; therefore, if your “dogs” are marked “Portugual” they’re copies…sorry. All Staffordshire comes from England. Your pieces are “decorative” or of personal value only.

      Reply
  6. SUSAN BOND

    YES I BELIEVE WE DO. MY GRANDMOTHER HAD THESE DOGS AS DOOR STOPS. SHE HAD THESE DOGS WHILE LIVING IN HIGHLAND PARK ILLINOIS. THIS WAS HER WINTER HOME. THESE FIGURINES ARE OVER 100 YEARS OLD. THE NEED REPAIR AND I DO NOT KNOW IF I SHOULD SPEND THE MONEY.

    Reply
  7. Julie Myers

    We have 2 Staffordshire dogs. They have been in the family for nearly 200 years that we can trace. They stand approx 30 cm tall. Both a little different. Eg. Eyelashes and markings but basically a pair. Gold has worn away a lot on collar, and black on lead has also worn away. Just wonder if they would be worth anything.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t currently have anyone on staff who could evaluate such items. Thanks for reading the article!

      Reply
    • Mary Met

      They sound like they have good “provenance” and that the pair has a slight difference in height, one representing the female and the other representing the male, also proves as they should size wise…some wear of handprinted features also is in keeping with original antique Staffordshire. Of course they would be “worth something” but it is dependent on their condition, rarity of the style of painted details such as the fur, eyes and collar. There are several books that could help you understand Staffordshire spaniels/dogs better….it takes a lot of looking at a lot of different pieces to develop an eye for authentic and valueable pieces. The market for Staffordshire animals and dogs fluctuates but there are typically always collectors on the lookout for good and rare pieces. You’d really need to have an experienced collector have a look to know their current value. Currently, I’d say there are not as many novice collectors in the market.

      Reply
      • Mary Met

        That was to say, “handpainted”…not “handprinted”..blame autocorrect!

  8. Ann Holaday

    I have an 18.5cm Spaniel Staffordshire Dog clearly genuine and very old from my great grandmothers home in Wales. Can I send a picture. I believe it is one of a pair, but I only have the right.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t currently have anyone here who can authenticate or evaluate such items. Best of luck in your search!

      Reply
  9. Sharaon

    I have a dog, colour is white and orange/red. It stands about 7.5″ high and the hole in the bottom is about the size of a silver dollar. It does not have the name Staffordshire on the bottom, but a name I cannot read and a word under it that ways”Wood” but it is stamped close to the hole so that word is cut off , then England. It does have a number in Gold paint = 4561 There is also a letter “A” printed on the bottom too. The paint job on this dog look in very good shape and there is some crazing but not all over. On the bottom there is scuff type marks close to the edges. Maybe you can tell me what I have and if it has any value. Thanks.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t currently have any experts on hand who would be able to evaluate the piece. I hope you’re able to find someone!

      Reply
  10. William Philpot

    I have a pair of Cocker spaniels which stand about 61/2″ high. They are mainly white, but have a black nose, black eyes and spots which seem to be green in colour overlaid with gold detail. The ears and tail, also the collar and padlock are the same colour. The feet have painted black claws. On the bottom there is a red mark, which appears to be a form of dagger

    Reply
  11. William Philpot

    Sorry should have added that the decoration is slightly different on each one, although the colours are the same. The gold although shiny appears somewhat flat.

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t currently have any experts on hand who would be able to evaluate the piece. I hope you’re able to find someone!

      Reply
  12. Ivan dC

    Hi. I have a Staffordshire dog approx. 10.25inch high. It has a very old sticker at the bottom “Gekocht 1836”.
    I really looks as genuine, with a small vent hole at the back, not slip-casted and in excellent condition.
    I have taken some pics and can send to you. Please help in telling me if it is authentic and what the approx. value would be?

    Reply
    • S&C ETC.

      I’m sorry, we don’t have any experts who would be able to verify it or give any kind of valuation.

      Reply

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