"Dear Seller, I am sure you listed with the best intentions but..." is how I usually start emails to sellers listing reproduction figures as The Real Thing. I like to give sellers the benefit of the doubt, because frequently they have listed with the best intentions. Tonight, I wrote two emails in that spirit to the sellers of these items.
Grammar and spelling errors are not mine! No claims of great antiquity are made here, but isn't a Staffordshire figure one that was made in Staffordshire? So I wrote.
Your figure is in very good condition because it is very new. It was made in Asia, not Staffordshire, sometime from 1990--copied from a colour picture that was published in a book in that year. I am sure you listed with the best intentions so thought you would like to have this added info. Best wishes,
We'll have to see what happens. The item is for sale on eBay, item 280375829630. I will add this picture to the BEWARE page on this site. This page is intended as a rogue's gallery of repro figures, to guide novice collectors. An experienced collector emailed me that he felt nauseous after looking at the BEWARE page. My sort of man!
THIS ITEM IS VERY OLD
IT HAS BEEN IN MY GRANS CABINETT IN HAYMARKET FOR AT LEAST 50yrs
SHE HAD THE PAIR (tom molyneux & tom cribb)
TIMES WERE HARD AND SHE SOLD MOLYNEUX NOW ITS TIME TO LET THE CHAMPION GO
CANT SEE ANY MARKS BUT HAD DEALER VERIFY IT AS OLD AND STAFFORD LIGHT CRAZING IN THE CERAMIC
I am sure you listed with only the very best intentions so I thought you would like to know that this figure is a very modern reproductions of an early 19th century figure. Your figure was possibly made in Asia, copied from a picture of the original that appeared in "Circus & Sport: Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840", published around 1990. You can see an original figure in color in my book, and an example of this repro figure is illustrated on www.mystaffordshirefigures.com under the tab titled BEWARE. With best wishes,
This is quite a common reproduction and appears on eBay routinely. Wish I had remembered to add that the 'genius' who made this nasty thing--and I should say 'pair' rather than 'thing' because Cribb is customarily paired with Molyneux--got something else wrong: Molyneux was black, but Cribb was white!
If you want to see The Real Thing--be it a performing animal group or beautiful pairs of Cribb and Molyneux--look in my book. Lovingly photographed, because I do love these early Staffordshire figures so. The story of those early boxers is fascinating. Did you know they were the first sports stars of modern time? Prior to pugilism emerging as a sport in the late 1700s, the only sports stars were famous horses and dogs! The Cribb-Molyneux fights of 1810 and 1811 riveted the British public, and thousands turned out to watch those then-illegal events. That Molyneux, a former American slave, might wrest the national boxing title from Cribb, a very white Englishman, was too horrific to comtemplate! Molyneux really did win the first fight but he was cheated of victory and he lost the rematch the next year.
Boxing matches of those days were very different from those of today. Boxers did not wear gloves. Rounds were untimed and lasted until a man went down. He then had 30 seconds to be up or it was over. Matches lasted many long rounds, many long hours. Boxers fought few times in their lives because the human body can only take so much. Fabulous Staffordshire figures pay eternal tribute to these courageous men--and crude copies irritate me!
PS: I have since had replies from both sellers.
The seller of the performing animal group writes: My description does go on to say that it is "Staffordshire style" and not that it was actually made in Staffordshire.
Well, yes...but it didn't read that way yesterday! Today's revision notes STAFFORDSHIRE STYLE BOCAGE FIGURE OF TWO MAN A BOY. And the title still has no mention of 'style'.
As for the black Cribb, the seller writes:
HI THERE MYRNA,many thanks for your email and the advice,this item was in my nans cabinett all my life,60+years.didnt know if it was right or wrong took advice from dealer ( Ooops ) not allways correct .To someone who hasnt got one still makes a good space filler Kind regards cy
He has posted my email at the bottom of the listing. Guess potential buyers can now choose whom to believe.