Collecting antique dogs is most certainly, an eclectic endeavor. We can choose to be breed-specific in our collections, maker-specific, medium-specific, or perhaps style-specific.
For those of us who especially like our antique dog collections to have a bit of provenance, collecting antique fairings that feature dogs is a fun and fascinating way to go.
First, picture yourself at a 1940’s boardwalk carnival, where a win at a game of skill could land you a chalkware dog bank… Now, go back in time (and location), and imagine a country fair in Victorian England.
Here, a win at a game of skill would most likely award you with a “fairing”, a small, porcelain figurine depicting a humorous scene that you would take home and place on your cottage mantelpiece as a decoration and a reminder of what fun you had at the fair.
“Fairings”, are defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a present given or brought from a fair.”
They were made of solid, white paste porcelain, typically with a rectangular base, with a caption written on the front side, in black script.
In keeping with the light-hearted experience of the fair, Victorian fairings were often made to capture the humor of 19th century Europe. Occasionally, they were also made with a practical use in mind, as match holders, watch holders, or as small boxes.
Most of these fairings were produced by Conta & Boehme in Germany. Germany had the technical expertise required to mass produce these fairings at a low cost. Large quantities were exported to The British Isles and to the United States.
The production of these fairings came to an abrupt halt at the onset of WWI (1914.)
Collectible Antique Fairings
Over time, these original, now highly collectible fairings, were grouped together with other small figurines and trinket boxes, and even today, are called fairings.
It is important to know that the originals have the following characteristics:
They were all made in Germany
Fairings were never made in Staffordshire, England. Staffordshire figurines were made from pottery clay. Fairings were made from white-paste porcelain.
Fairings are solid
Staffordshire figurines were hollow.
Fairings have titles
These titles were considered an important part of their appeal. They were placed across the front side of the base, and they were done in black script.
These titles are a very important in determining the value and collectability of a fairing. They must be very clear and readable. Because of the “folksy” nature of a fairing, some loss of paint, or breakage to the figurines is more acceptable then any fading or damage to the title.
Collecting Dog-Themed Fairings
If you find yourself as fascinated by fairings as we are… you can imagine our excitement at finding antique fairings that were intended for dog lovers!