Have you seen the unusual bull baiting figure that sold at Bonhams UK last month for just over GBP 2600, including charges? Interestingly, this bull baiting figure, pictured below, uses a particularly attractive base that is also found on other figures in the 'Sherratt' style ( such as Death of Munro, Doctor Syntax, and even a Polito's Menagerie).
Clearly, the figure had some damage. Bull's horns, dogs' legs--these are not atypical injuries to a baited bull. The tail was obviously broken, but I believe the pieces were still available to the new owner. The knotted rope that goes under the bull was missing. This is an injury I don't like, and I hope the new owner just leaves the figure without rope, rather than "restoring". A restoration dead center hurts my eye. Unknown Buyer, please, please don't restore that rope!
We are all familiar with the usual 'Sherratt'-style bull baiting, as below. This figure measures 13.25 inches across. Rarely, it can occur on a mound base..
Clearly, this traditional bull baiting figure includes a man, and two plaques, one reading BULL-BEATING and the other NOW CAPTIN LAD. Bonhams' bull baiting had only one title plaque and no man. But the NOW CAPTIN LAD plaque was omitted because the man was omitted! Those are the encouraging words uttered by the man to either his bull or dogs.
The bull measures the same size in both figures above. But note that 'Sherratt' did also make smaller bull baitings incorporating smaller bulls--rare examples (one with a man, one without) are pictured in my book. These smaller bull baitings are on mound bases.
But a word of caution. Never confuse smaller versions of the traditional 'Sherratt' bullbaiting on a table base with the real thing. These small figures were made as late as 1960. They appear at auction routinely, and they are routinely erroneously cataloged as early 19th century figures. Click on the tab BELIEVE IT? at the top of this page, scroll down, and you will see one of these ugly little 6 inch things. If I win the lottery, I am going to try and buy each and every one so I can smash them all. They disgust me. I am offended at auction houses confusing these nasty figures with The Real Thing. And I am tired of collectors making costly mistakes.
Back to the Bonhams' bull. A lot of money? Yes. But try to find another like it at any price. If you do, let us know!