When my book was published, I received a phone call. The lady at the other end was polite, but she wanted me to know she was annoyed. I had photographed some figures in her small collection for possible inclusion in my book, and I was a little embarrassed at having been able to include just one....so I held my breath! No, it was not the fact a mere lone figure had made it into the book. What had her really ticked was that I had not included her Roger Giles.
Well, you could have bowled me over with a feather. Firstly, I had not photographed her Roger Giles. Secondly, she had not even shown it to me. So I drew a deep breath and told her the truth: I had not included a Roger Giles because the cut-off date for my book was 1835 and I was not sure of the earliest possible date for a Roger Giles figure.
Well, since that time, I have come across three pearlware figures of Roger Giles that I believe date c1835, so perhaps Roger would have made it into the book, if I had seen him. As you can see below, the figure is small--about 4 inches high--and serves as a pepper pot (the hat is pierced and the opening beneath can be closed with a cork).
Staffordshire figure depicting Roger Giles. Picture courtesy of Andrew Dando Antiques.
'Sherratt' style Staffordshire figure depicting Roger Giles.
So why is Roger Giles squatting immodestly with his trousers pulled down? He is laying eggs of course! Roger Giles was a Devonshire jack-of-all-trades who supposedly advertised on a signboard to sell his fresh eggs, newly laid by him every day. I have found several versions of this rambling grammatical disaster, some claiming to be copied from a handbill, others claiming to be copied from a signboard. I am frustrated at not being able to pin a date to Roger Giles's attempt at marketing--not yet, anyway.
For a long time I did not want to own a Roger Giles because I thought the figure unattractively crude. Then I found my little Roger Giles, above, and I was smitten. Like the example in Andrew Dando's photograph, my figure is colorful and charming. A good early Roger Giles is difficult to find, but then the fun is in the search--and the reward is life-long. Happy hunting!