Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: February 2016

Chance Handkerchief Vases

The Chance brothers, Lucas and William had been working together as ‘Chance Brothers and Company’ at the Smethwick glassworks in the West Midlands since 1832 when William bought into Lucas’ business to save it from bankruptcy. The company had a mixed history but are probably best known for their handkerchief vases, which were actually an imitation of an Italian original. Paolo Venini and Fulvio Bianconi designed the first handkerchief vase or ‘Vaso Fazoletto’ in 1949.

Chance handkerchief vases provided buyers with a far more affordable alternative and quickly became popular in their own right. Chance took the ‘handkerchief’ metaphor one step further than their Italian counterparts adopting not just the look and shape but also embracing the material and design to resemble actual handkerchiefs incorporating polka dots, striped and gingham patterns.

Their first vase was produced in 1957 and they were in production until 1981 with new designs regularly available. The aforementioned ‘Gingham’ for example wasn’t released until 1977. The handkerchief vase was made in a huge number of designs including a large variety of textured and coloured glass and more dramatic examples such as the ‘Pop Art’ and ‘Psychedelic’ designs of the 1960s.

The designs were applied to the glass through the process of screen-printing. This was done before the shaping of the vase and allowed the transfer to be heat-fixed during the shaping process. Squares of sheet glass were re-heated to 700°C so they became pliable.

The larger vases were then formed by manually pushing the sides with a willow stick while the smaller vases took the shape naturally themselves. Chance handkerchief vases were manufactured in huge quantities and are very easily found today so the rarer sizes and designs are more coveted by collectors.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Goss Crested Ware

It is widely acknowledged that Henry Goss and his two sons, Adolphus and Victor were the first to hit upon the very lucrative idea of producing souvenirs carrying coats of arms. These ‘seaside souvenirs’ were an ideal product to make just as the expansion of the railways and the introduction of the bank holiday had greatly
increased people’s travel. The day-trip was now becoming popular.

W. H. Goss & Co first produced crested ware in 1888 from their “Falcon Works” pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. A typical piece of Goss crested ware had a white, creamy glaze and a coloured transfer of a coat of arms. A genuine Goss has a printed mark, featuring an image of a falcon above the name “W. H. GOSS.” Hundreds of different pieces were made from traditional vases to top hats, clogs and tiny kettles.

The success of their heraldic china souvenir business was huge, with large scale production needed to meet high demand. It is believed that by 1910, approximately 90% of homes had a piece of Goss crested ware adorning their mantelpiece or sideboard. Adolphus Goss built up a huge network of Goss agents across the country to market and sell their crested ware. It began with the up-and-coming seaside resorts, but very quickly every town and city had its arms produced on Goss china ready for the tourist trade.

Other potteries such as Carlton, Grafton and Shelley didn’t take long to realise the potential sales in this area and launched their own ranges of crested ware. However, after the First World War tastes changed and interest

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Penny Toys

Cheaply made from pressed tin and very easy to break, these small toys, measuring no longer than five inches, were affordable to all as they really were sold for just a penny by many street peddlers and market stalls who still made a good profit on them.

Penny toys were in production from the 1860s but peaked in popularity around 1900, largely due to the process of transfer colour lithography that was widely available by 1890. It enabled fine detail and colour to be added to sheets of tinplate very quickly and economically making the toys very bright, exciting and desirable to children.

Many of the Penny toys were produced by well-known toy manufacturers and largely in Germany. German-based Distler, for example, started off as a penny tinplate toy manufacturer before expanding its range.

Penny toys were very small and that actually made them quite difficult for children to play with, especially where the toy involved a tiny detachable piece, like a driver, which was tricky to take in and out of a car. Vehicles were a dominant subject matter for Penny toys; they would all move, some needed pushing while the more sought after were fitted with a flywheel allowing them to propel themselves. Penny toys were quite often tiny replicas of larger, more
expensive tinplate toys on sale at the time.

There is a good collectors’ market for Penny toys, with very good or mint condition being the most important element in value, closely followed by rarity. Early examples tend to be more popular as the quality of production did decline over time as demand grew. Fine lithography and interesting or intricate designs are also keenly collected.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Railway Totem Signs

The 1921 Railway Act made changes to the railways ‘with a view to……. more efficient and economical working of the railway system of Great Britain railways.’

There were four groups formed; the Great Western Railway (GWR), the London, Midland & Scottish (LMS), the Southern Railway (SR) and the London & North- Eastern Railway (LNER). Of the four groups created, the Great Western remains the most popular with collectors.

Further changes were to come and the totem signs that are so well loved and appear in most enthusiasts’ collections were introduced onto stations from 1948 when the railways were nationalised and split into six regions. The totem signs were a branding exercise by British Railways and the standard size was 36” long.

Totem signs were made in different colours for each region. There was pale blue for Scottish, orange for North Eastern, maroon/burgundy for Midlands, brown for Western and navy for Eastern. The background was coloured and the lettering was
white. On some later orange North Eastern examples the white letters have a black outline, possibly to make them clearer to read in the dim evening light. Totem signs that are different from the norm like this are prized by collectors.

British Railways (BR) began trading as British Rail from 1965 and so began the gradual removal of the totem signs from stations. As with most collectables, the value of totem signs depends largely on rarity but also condition and desirability; if the station or place was particularly interesting or remarkable or regionally important then this also affects the value. Some totem signs appear regularly at
auction while some may never have been listed for auction or private sale and may not even have survived.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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