Money: Take some paper, glue, chalk and make a mint
Your great-grandmother's papier-mache tea-caddy could be worth a tidy fortune these days. By Winifred Carr
Wednesday 12 June 1996
Five years ago, a pair of Regency coasters, red with restrained gilding, would have cost about pounds 700. This spring, a similar pair, with silver mounts, was sold for pounds 1,800.
A graduated set of three black lacquered papier-mache trays made around 1860 and decorated with handpainted pink and white roses, bluebells, mother- of-pearl and gilding was bought 20 years ago for pounds 30 for the sake of the largest tray, which on a stand makes a decorative coffee table. The set would now fetch up to pounds 800 at auction.
But more ornate Victorian pieces such as tea-caddies, letter racks, needlework boxes and small tables are more reasonably priced. A cane-seated papier- mache chair made about l860 and decorated with flowers and a butterfly, gilt and mother-of-pearl is expected to fetch between pounds 200 and pounds 300 at Sotheby's sale in Billingshurst, West Sussex, on 16 July.
In the same sale a small table with a painting of a Moroccan mosque on the top is estimated to reach between pounds 600 and pounds 800. Unlike most papier- mache, the table carries the stamp of the makers, Jennens and Betteridge, whose factory in Birmingham made much of the best of the Victorian ware.
The art of making papier-mache was an Eastern technique which used a mixture of paper, glue, chalk and sometimes sand, which was baked and then carved before being painted.
It was introduced to England, France and Italy in the l7th century and used mainly for the decoration of ceilings and interior walls instead of the heavier and more expensive plaster of Paris.
After Henry Clay of Birmingham discovered, in 1772, a way of pressure- moulding, then coating the shapes with a durable, baked-on lacquer, paperware - as it was then called - was used for making almost anything decorative from snuff boxes and inkwells to furniture.
It was only when A Jennens and TH Betteridge bought Clay's factory at the beginning of the 19th century that paper ware became known in this country as papier-mache.
By 1825, the factory was adding mother-of-pearl to the decorations. The Victoria and Albert museum has a fine mid-l9th century Jennens and Betteridge fire-screen inlaid with white and green paste stones. Some of the best painted pieces were of Chinese scenes or pictures of English castles and country houses.
Queen Victoria commissioned a small tilt-top table painted with a group of the royal children, their dogs and ponies and a background of Windsor castle.
The Queen's collection of papier-mache grew from the time that Jennens and Betteridge had presented her and Prince Albert with a set of trays to mark their wedding. Before long there was a great deal of it, including fire-screens, chairs and bedheads, at Balmoral, Windsor and Osborne.
By the middle of the l9th century there were a number of other well-known manufacturers of papier-mache, such as the firm of Ryton and Walton of Wolverhampton, and their goods were being exported to Portugal, Spain and America.
Lacquered papier-mache was also being made in France, Germany and Russia, the Russians adopting the English method of manufacture in the l830s. Most of the Imperial Russian pieces are easily identified by their meticulous paintings of traditional scenes, a troika hurrying through the snow, a family taking tea from a samovar, views of the Kremlin and St Petersburg and images of saints. Some of the finest paintings are on presentation Easter eggs.
Flowers were an English speciality but by the middle of the century many of the roses, tulips and daisies were beginning to look overblown. The delicacy of earlier work was lost as papier-mache was used for anything that could be decorated, from blotter covers to wall panels for a ship's saloon. The craze peaked about l870 and by l890 manufacture had all but stopped.
The vast bulk of l9th century papier-mache is unnamed, but a stamped piece is not necessarily one that will cost a fortune. Small Victorian pieces are often sold in lots rather than individually. A collection of five pieces, a tea-caddy, two boxes, an inkwell and blotter cover recently went for pounds 600, considerably less then they would have cost bought separately in an antique shop.
27 March 2015 08:30 PM
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
How to make the most of Isas: You can save more money now, the returns are tax-free and the rules are flexible
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
10 March 2015 09:03 AM
The Financial Conduct Authority found non-compliance in all reviewed firms
11 March 2015 11:38 AM
Pension expert John Lawson talks on why improved longevity is something to plan for carefully
06 March 2015 08:30 PM
02 March 2015 10:50 AM
The DWP and the FCA have joined forces to investigate transaction charges in occupational pension schemes
04 March 2015 03:00 PM
The company was found to have unacceptably long call waiting times
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 12:01 AM
The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Offset your mortgage and save thousands
Simon Read: 'It went below the radar but you could be eligible for a tax break on your savings'
Women to lose benefits from contracted-out pension scheme
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station