How the years fly, and it has been many years since my collector and dealer friend Nick Burton sent this engaging little Staffordshire pottery figure my way. Small as he is, this pearlware bird nester exudes a certain charm that captivated both Nick and me--caught at the moment he robs a bird of its nest, he has such a guilty expression on his face! I dubbed him the Green Man, and I truly have enjoyed owning him.
If your cup is full, don't ever let it stop you wanting more. And, in that spirit, I wanted more for my Green Man. I wanted his mate, the companion figure. I knew there had to have been one, but she was elusive. The closest I came was a gentleman companion. As you see, the man below is from many of the same molds. But note that his jacket is quite shorter. I suspect he was made subsequently, after the molds had been modified. He is very nice, but he is rather lifeless by comparison and just didn't qualify as Mate for Life for my Green Man!
When I was preparing Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840, I found my Green Man's lost love---in the home of another. Fortunately, the owner was a collector friend, and he has now allowed me to have her. So, at last, this little pair of bird nesters sits contentedly on my shelf, together, as they should be.
I wish I could say they are together forever, but I fear not. At the end of my time I dare say they will be tossed into random lots at an auction house and will be separated again. But for a while at least, all is at it should be.
Dealer David Boyer passed through Dallas last week and stopped to visit. In his pocket was a mouse. Not a real live one, but something far better: a little pearlware mouse. As a mouse is among the rarest of antique Staffordshire animals, I latched onto it and David traveled home alone.
This brings the grand total of mice that I have recorded to six, but the new mouse is different in that it sits atop a quilted pillow.
Two of the six mice that I know of pair with a cat. Below is my pair. As you see, the mouse is on a longer base than the cat. This was done to accommodate its tail. It is not as pretty as the new mouse--in fact, when I bought it, it was described as a cat! As it makes for a very ugly cat, it was quite inexpensive. I got really, really lucky in that I later found the companion cat. At times, I think a Pottery God looks out for collectors, and finding the cat was one of those moments.
On the subject of mice, there is a mouse house in the Hunt Collection.
This house. which quite obviously is unpainted, functioned as a pastille burner. It is large, about 10 inches across, and I have not seen another like it. I suspect the numerous mice scampering across it are a nod to the childhood pastime of keeping mice as pets.
If you find a Staffordshire mouse, do not expect it to be inexpensive. There seems to be an inverse correlation between size and price, or perhaps it is rather that there is a direct correlation between cuteness and price. I doubt I will ever find a companion cat for the new mouse, but who knows?
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