Within the short span of the week, egged on by a wink from this month’s pay packet, I’ve found myself to have accumulated quite the collection of Beswick. Starting out as a novice, this is mostly for my sheer love of porcelain and, of course, a love affair with a few choice childhood titles by Beatrix Potter. I’ve found that anything which is a comfort can only ever be beneficial – hence, abiding by the law to live my life well, I’ve come across many number of little things which make my heart flutter.
Together, The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan, The Tale of Ginger and Pickles appeal to a sense of whimsy, the sweetest kind of nostalgia and a heavy dose of indulgence. It’s honestly a potted cottage history. For as long as I can possibly remember, harking back to my twee nursery bookshelf of pocket sized favourites, I’ve been head over heels for a pomeranian, cat about town, and partnership of tomcat and terrier, parcelling up packages and baking pies of mouse, veal and ham – served up, of course, in a pretty dish with a pink rim. Not necessarily in that order, but, from village shop to Ribby’s cottage, it all happened.
Full disclosure, I’m 22 years of age and have absolutely found my niche as not-so-off-the-peg collector, having my whims and fancies grow every day. I am now the proud owner of ever so many Beatrix Potter Beswicks in miniature. I could elaborate by going into my penchant for historical and literary women across Royal Doulton and Coalport, but, I feel that’s a story for another day.
As to the world of Beswick and Beatrix Potter? This partnership was born in 1948, with just a little magic from Lucy Beswick. Another woman with a vision, Lucy Beswick put forward the meeting of two noteworthy causes in 1947, when she suggested creating Beatrix’s illustrations in a magical three-dimensions. As providence would have it, John Beswick managed to secure the rights in 1948 to turn out 10 Beatrix Potter characters in their earthenware best, notably, the first being Jemima Puddle-Duck, who was modelled by Arthur Gredington in 1952. Thus the wheels were set in motion for a golden age of sorts, most fruitful for a collector of the literary persuasion.
Beloved the world over, the popularity of these little porcelain figurines has remained a constant, even to this day. I feel that they inspire a certain delight – having been so lovingly made and beautifully realised. I’ve sought out my favourites for a bookshelf and they suit it rather well. I suppose my biggest spend has been on the Duchess and Ribby Millenium Tableau, as pictured above in its new home. This piece was part of a limited edition release of 1,500 tableaus, issued in the year 2000 and modelled by Martyn Alcock. The newly imagined scene, based on the original drawings, is truly a joy to behold: Handpainted and accented with real gold, the tableau delights at every turn.
What I love most, perhaps, are the thoughtful details – Duchess recalls the rare figurine of 1951, where she holds a bouquet of beautifully coloured flowers (testament to Beatrix’s exquisite country gardens which feature throughout The Pie and the Patty Pan) and Ribby reaches towards the old Victorian cast iron fire for the infamous pie. I was entirely enchanted – down to the little slippers left by the rabbit fur rug.
Given my motives as a collector, accumulating for the sheer joy of adding a little heart to my surroundings, I can well understand Beatrix’s (correct) certainty that her tales would be a wonder. If you also happen to be a collector, of any persuasion, it would be lovely to hear your stories and motivations in the comments below! I’m always intrigued and love to meet others of a similar elk…