Collector's Corner: This market is crackers for animals

Beswick has been making ceramic beasts since the 1930s, and now they're in demand

Many people wouldn't look twice at a ceramic cow in an antiques sale - and recoil at the thought of decorating their home with a figure of a little girl on a pony. But collectors ignore such items at their cost.

Beswick animal figures have been rocketing in value for the past 10 years, with prices now reaching several thousand pounds.

Bill Buckley began holding dedicated Beswick sales at Potteries Auctions in Stoke-on-Trent in 1997, and demand for the animal figures has taken off. "It was phenomenal, because none of the other auctioneers were touching it at that time," Buckley says.

"Since then values have gone up and up. A lot of money has come into the market in the last five years from investors, but now is a good time to buy as prices have slowed a little and you can pick up some good deals. Beswick is always going to be collectable."

One reason for the slowdown now is that the Beswick brand was recently sold by Royal Doulton. The new owner has promised that there will be no duplication of older figures, which is good news for collectors and investors alike.

So what do the Beswick animals have that other manufacturers don't? Alexander Clement at Bonhams says: "Beswick has always produced consistent quality - other manufacturers just don't measure up. They were always well modelled, cast and painted, so pretty much anything they made could be a collectable in the future."

Buckley adds: "People usually just collect a certain type of pottery, but they collect Beswick animals either because they love horses or because they farm cows or breed birds. They understand the animal. Not many other manufacturers can say they created real ceramic replicas, but Beswick gets the modelling and the colouring right."

Currently, the highest prices are reached for the rare early cattle such as a Hereford in roan, a more unusual colour for these models. Items can fetch £4,000 to £5,000. Sheep are popular, too - the Merino Ram always makes between £1,500 and £2,000. Mounted horses such as the cowboy Canadian Mountie, racehorses with jockeys and huntsmen and women also fetch big money, especially for the more unusual colours of horse and if they are among early models signed by Arthur Gredington.

The black-and-white version of a little girl on a pony, which would normally would have been in brown and white, has just been sold by Potteries Auctions for £3,500. Last year, it sold the girl on a rocking horse grey pony for £5,000. Five years ago, you would have paid about £600 for one of these pieces.

Buckley suggests looking at ordinary horses and even dogs. "The main colour for horses was brown, and then they did colourways like palomino and greys, which I think are underrated," he says. "While three or four years ago they started creeping up, they are still quite reasonable - for £30 to £60 you can pick up a good 40- to 50-year-old horse or dog."

Clement also thinks there are some sections of the market worth further investigation. "The very good fish figures that Beswick produced, mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Leaping Trout, haven't really marched on a great deal," he says. "They also did lovely bird figures, particularly the larger birds of prey, which again should be fetching more than they are. The main thing is condition, which is vital; many of these pieces were very fragile."

But Buckley has a word of warning on this subject - beware the professionally restored pieces. These can be hard to spot, but the resale price would be substantially lower, and therefore they should be avoided for investment purposes.

The market definitely has longevity and in spite of the recent slowing in prices, it shows no sign of coming to a halt. "More people have become aware and more are buying," Buckley says.

"People are still surprised by the prices they can fetch. I had a chap from Cumbria call me and say he had a cow in a bucket in his yard, which he thought could be Beswick, but its back leg was broken so he didn't think it was worth anything. We sold it for £1,900 because it was a roan Hereford."

Contacts

Potteries Specialist Auctions: 01782 286 622; www.potteriesauctions.com. Next specialist Beswick sale, 17 May

Bonhams: 01244 313 936; www.bonhams.com. Next sale, 20 April

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions