This week, a pair of typical Jobson and Nell figures appeared on eBay--see below. They are incredibly close in appearance to the pair above, but they are "in the white." In other words, pretty enamel colors were not painted on top of the glaze. We see this sometimes with early Staffordshire figures. No big deal.
I was puzzled by this mark, and posted the eBay listing to mystaffordshirefigures' FaceBook page to see what others thought. Here I learned that the Tournai factory in Belgium, which is best known for its porcelain, also made creamware from 1800 and used the impressed TOURNAY mark. Figures were apparently included in the production, and from this we are led to conclude that this pair of Jobson and Nell are Belgian rather than English.
But I am left with some niggling doubts that I share with you:
- Are these figures creamware (a body Tournai manufactured) or are they pearlware? They really look like pearlware to me....and Tournai did not, best I know, make pearlware figures. (Electric lighting can make the whitest object appear yellow, but look in recessed areas to best detect puddle blue-tinged glaze).
- Jobson and Nell are characters from the English stage. Why would a Belgian manufacture want to make these? They are far from beautiful, so their commercial appeal had to be limited. And they had no relevance to their continental customers.
- Is it possible that Tournai (which is said to have exported pottery dinnerware in typical English patterns to England) also made Jobson and Nell figures to export to Britain? Yes, it is--but that truly would have been sending coals to Newcastle! How could these unpainted figures compete on the English market with the many colorful models that the Staffordshire potters were turning out.
- If Tournai made creamware figures, where are the others? I can find no examples in the numerous museum collections that are online. The only other marked Tournai figures I find are identical to the eBay pair. You can see them here....and note the price!! http://www.ac-antique.com/product_info.php?currency=USD&cPath=22&products_id=373&pID=373&language=en&osCsid=c30bf90b4010606800f6b212b4623afc
So there it is, and make of it what you will. If you can shed any light, please add your comment below. Also, please join mystaffordshirefigures on FaceBook-- clicking here should take you to this non-exclusive group:). Interesting things come up all the time, posted by the 100+ "friends" of the group, and it is fun to see and learn.