- Welcome to The Wise Collector
- Knowledge Changes Everything!
- Buyer Beware!
- Buyer Beware!: Part II
- Caring for Your Antiques
- Coin Collecting
- McCoy Pottery
- Chinese Export Porcelain
- Frankoma Pottery
- The Arts and Crafts Movement
- The Art Deco Period
- Susie Cooper Pottery
- Limoges China
- 18th C American Furniture Styles
- The Bauhaus School: Weimar 1919
- The Bauhaus School: Design & Architecture
- The End of a Century: Art Nouveau Style
- Biedermeier: The Comfortable Style
- The Souvenir Age
- A History of Ceramic Tiles
- Flow Blue China
- Collect Vintage Christmas Decorations
- An American Thanksgiving Through theYears
- How to Find an Antiques Appraiser
- Louis Prang, Father of the American Christmas Card
- Thomas Cook and the Grand Tours
- Harry Rinker's 25th Anniversary
- Mid-Century Modern
- Will Chintz China become Popular Again?
- Ireland's Waterford Crystal
- Vintage Wicker and Rattan
- Fishing Gear Collecting
- Bennington Pottery
- Identifying Pottery and Ceramic Marks
- The Art of Needlework in the Arts & Crafts Era
- RECOMMENDED WEBSITES
- BLOG: RANDOM THOUGHTS
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The Souvenir Age
With the advent of the railroads in Victorian England, access to cheap travel became the impetus for a new phenomenon: the Tourist. Derived from that rite of passage, the Continental Tour, now the shopgirls, accounting clerks, parsons' wives and young honeymooners could travel just about anywhere in Great Britain in relative comfort and convenience - once a privilege accorded only to the wealthy. Britons rushed to the seashore, the mountains of Wales, the rocky cliffsides of Devon and the Scottish highlands. The coasts of France became so Anglicized during holiday season that a generation later, most of the small-boat armada that rushed to Dunkirk knew the route without further assistance from the British Navy.
The magnificent hotels and spas that had been graced by royalty and the very upper class one hundred years previously now lowered their rates and catered to the new middle class. Where modest crofters and quiet fishermen's wives had lived peacefully only a few years before, now tea-shops, gift-shops, boardwalks and carriages-for-hire appeared.
At roughly the same time, many of the indigenous industries such as potteries were experiencing a downturn in demand for their products. Cheap imports from the Continent were flooding their markets, and mass production factory output meant less profitable firms faced ruin. Nonetheless, a few entrepreneurs saw a new market in the tourists - and began producing inexpensive items that the tourist could take back home as a "souvenir" or reminder of his holiday pleasures. Clearly, a work-force skilled at making faux Greek vases and tea caddies could readily turn their hand to making other articles and this is exactly what they did.
Torquay is the name given to ceramics by several potteries working near Torquay, England, from 1870 until 1962. Until about 1900, the potteries used local red clay to make classical-style art pottery vases and figurines. Then they turned to making souvenir wares. Items were dipped in colored slip and decorated with painted slip and sgraffito designs. They often had mottoes or proverbs, and scenes of cottages, ships, birds, or flowers. The Scandy design was a symmetrical arrangement of brushstrokes and spots done in colored slips. Potteries included Watcombe Pottery (1870-1962); Torquay Terra-Cotta Company (1875-1905); Aller Vale (1881-1924); Torquay Pottery (1908-1940); and Longpark (1883-1957).
To the uninitiated, Torquay Pottery means "mottowares," yet that was only a very small part of the output of the Torquay potteries; indeed, the term "Torquay Pottery" is misleading too because very few of the cluster of potteries that made these wares were actually in Torquay itself. The main customers were day trippers or holiday makers who wanted something cheap and cheerful to take home; gradually designs were simplified (for cheapness) and mottoes added. The public loved the mottoes - which varied from the profound to the humorous - and they remain popular with many collectors today. Mottowares were the bread and butter lines of the potteries for over 50 years, so they are still readily available. The candlestick pictured above, right, reads "Many are called, few get up". The creamer on the left is a
Victorian Americans affluent enough to travel abroad often returned home with souvenirs made of sycamore by the Smith family of Mauchline, Ayershire, now Strathclyde, Scotland. Adorned with transferware scenes, this Scottish wooden ware recalled landmarks in Scotland and elsewhere. Known today as Mauchline ware, examples tend to date from about 1880 to 1900. Scottish souvenir ware, now avidly collected, also includes tartan ware made of sycamore and covered with varnished plaid paper representing the Scottish clans.
Transfer Printed Ware
Applied transfer prints were used as a decoration throughout most of the century or so of Mauchline Ware production. This is the "true" souvenir ware and certainly the most collected finish. Far more transfer printed ware was produced than any other. There is on record of the total number of different transfer views but the number must run into four figures. It is unlikely that any town in the United Kingdom escaped the attention of Smith's of Mauchline, with many popular resorts, both inland and coastal, being represented by large numbers of different views. Many churches, schools, hotels, stately homes and monuments have become immortal thanks to Mauchline Ware. There was also a considerable export trade, especially to the United States, Canada and Europe. Several hundred non-United Kingdom views are known.
Another very popular area is fern ware. This finish was applied to quite large pieces of furniture such as wardrobes, tables and screens as well as the more usual smaller items. In the 1860s photography became very popular and soon its potential was realized as an alternative to transfer prints.
Early snuffboxes, tea caddies, and card cases were hand painted or decorated in fine penwork. Even tartan effects were produced by hand ruling. Highly skilled artists were employed and the process was both time-consuming and costly. The products were thus far from cheap.
More cost effective methods were required and in due course machinery was produced which could print tartan designs on paper, this being glued to the subject articles. Boxes and other flat surfaces presented no problems but many Mauchline Ware items had curved surfaces, the ultimate challenge being the egg-shaped sewing etuis. The object was to achieve a perfect visual finish - one without creases. The answer was to apply the tartan paper in segments. Each half of the "egg" was initially painted black. Six triangular segments of the chosen tartan paper were then glued to each half egg making sure that each piece matched its neighbor.
A gap of about 1/16 inch was left between each segment through which the black paint remained visible. The final touch was to hand paint a wavy gold line along the black dividing strips, thus producing a perfect crease free finish. A great many tartans have been recorded, some of the most common being Prince Charles, Caledonian, Stuart, McBeth, McPherson and McFarlane.
In the industrial revolution marquetry was made easier by the use of the foot-powered jigsaw, which worked like a sewing machine needle. Tunbridge ware were small boxes and game boards decorated with tumbling blocks and other geometric patterns manufactured for the tourist trade in the English spa town of Tunbridge Wells from the 19th century until the Second World War.
Another interesting souvenir is the Stanhope. Named for Lord Stanhope whose interest in photography led to advances in microphotography, stanhopes were photographs mounted under a magnifying glass about .12 in. (.3 cm.) across. Often in a ring or other jewelry, they were especially popular in the 1860s. Usually set in ivory or bone, they adorned the heads of walking sticks, needlecases, rughooking punches, manicure and sewing items. Although not rare, finding one today is a delight.
American Tourist Souvenirs
Of course, tourism in the United States was also becoming an exploding phenomenon. The establishment of National Parks, the arrival of the automobile, shorter work weeks and renewed interest in American history following the Centennial in 1876, meant more people were traveling to the lakes, mountains, desert and plains just to see what America looked like "up close." Souvenirs of Native Americans in the Southwest included beadwork, baskets, leather goods, pottery, and jewelry.
A visit to the Adirondacks might be recalled by pillows filled with balsam needles, miniature birch bark canoes, and handcarved wooden wares. Photo albums, stereoscope pictures, and hand-tinted postcards recalled that honeymoon in Niagara Falls.
Collectors of souvenir items have such a diverse field from which to choose! For more information, check out these websites:
Torquay Pottery Collectors Society(UK)
North American Torquay Society
Mauchline Ware Collectors Society
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