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Memories in Porcelain

by Carole Murdock

 

Throughout its long history, Wade Ceramics has charmed collectors with its “memories in porcelain.”  Historical figures, beloved children’s stories, nursery tales, cartoon characters, and popular TV shows have been captured forever in clay by Wade artists.  Some pieces originated at the pottery itself as part of its retail line while many others were commissioned by individuals and other companies.

One of the things that has made Wade unique from its very beginning, is its ability to adapt to various markets and production runs.  Wade has produced pieces by the thousands for companies like Bell’s Whiskey, Chivas Royal, Tom Smith Crackers Ltd., and Red Rose Tea or pieces as few as one.  It has been this flexibility that has allowed Wade to continue to make its pottery in the UK while larger potteries like Royal Doulton have been forced to have their work done outside of the UK.  Wade is definitely a survivor!

As early as 1935, Wade, Heath & Co Ltd. was commissioned by Walt Disney himself to make figurines of Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Horsecollar.  Series of Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Donald Duck, Pinocchio Nursery Ware were also produced.  In 1939, Wade made a cellulose figure of the Disney character Hiawatha. The Disney association continued with the Hatbox Series and Blow-Ups and Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs 1956-65.  The Snow White set and Disney minis were remade, with additions and mold changes, from 1981 to 1985.

The early 50’s saw the introduction of the nursery rhymes Wynken, Blynken, & Nod; Butcher, Baker, & Candlemaker; Goldilocks & the Three Bears; and Alice in Wonderland; Mabel Lucie Atwell pieces; the Snippets Hansel & Gretel; Walt Kelly’s cartoon, Pogo the Possum; and Enid Blyton’s story characters Noddy, Big Ears, Miss Fluffy Cat & Mr. Plod.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s through the mid 80’s, more story figurines were made like the Large Nursery Favourites and the mini nursery set commissioned by Red Rose Tea.  These pieces are some of the most sought after collectibles.  Tom & Jerry, the Irish Character and Song Figures based on typical Irish songs and folk tales, and the Guinness advertising figures Tony Weller, Tweedledum & Tweedledee, Madhatter, and Wellington Boot were also produced during this period.

The 80’s brought us the Coronation Street set of 3 houses named after the popular British TV series and the Brighton Pavilion set of 3 sold at the actual Pavilion in Brighton Beach.  Because the Pavilion set was commissioned by the Pavilion gift shop, it was  unmarked and most people did not know the set was made by Wade.

The 90’s to the present have seen an explosion of individuals and small companies commissioning pieces with Wade.  Originally, Wade required pieces to be made in lots of at least 2000, but this number was decreased over the years to accommodate smaller budgets and the collector’s market.  One of the most successful businesses to do private commissions has been C&S Direct owned by David Chown and Russell Schooley. Among their popular pieces made by Wade are Andy Capp & Flo, Snoopy, Garfield, Mr. Magoo, Thomas Tank Engine & Friends, Mabel Lucie Atwell pieces like Alice in Wonderland, and the current Betty Boop series.

Other commissioned story characters are Scooby Doo & Scrappy Doo & several Hanna Barbera pieces by G&G Collectables, the Sherwood Forest series by Ian Warner & Mike Posgay, and the Wizard of Oz series by KS Wader.  Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Paddington Bear, Rupert Bear, Beano cartoon characters, and the Superman, Batman, and Peter Pan tinies were also special commissions by other individuals.  The Wade Collectors Club made the following series of storybook character sets that were sold only to club members:  Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Goldilocks & the Three Bears, Wind in the Willows, The Three Little Pigs, Beauty & the Beast and the current Felix the Cat.

Wade’s ability to appeal to children of all ages has accounted for its continued collectibility throughout the years.  Each one of us has that special childhood character or story that we will always cherish.  Thank you, Wade, for making lasting memories for all of us.



0845 2462525 or from overseas +44 845 246 2525, or e-mail us at club@wadecollectorsclub.co.uk