Potters paired writer, pedestal Antiques: A figurine from Staffordshire featured Shakespeare, leaning against a pile of books.


July 14, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Modern figurines usually are made to resemble the more-beautiful-than-life people envisioned by the artist. Lovely women with flowing dresses from earlier times, American Indians dressed in colorful costumes and heroic men dressed for battle are popular.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, figurines displayed in a home usually pictured a famous politician, actor, military hero or member of a royal family, or a character from fiction. The 19th-century family had only a few black-and-white drawings, so the ceramics of the day were the best images to be had.

One popular subject was William Shakespeare, the playwright and poet who lived from 1564 to 1616. Although Shakespeare's plays are still popular, few new statues are being made of the man. The many pictures found in books, on television and on the Internet make historical images easy to find.

The Staffordshire potters in England made many different Shakespeare figures. In the 1850s, Shakespeare was portrayed leaning on a pile of books. The books were piled on a pedestal surrounded by the heads of the rulers of England, copying a monument erected in Westminster Abbey in 1741.

By the 1860s, potters simplified the figure, and the pillar was a plain hexahedron. The figure often had the name "Shakespeare" written on the base. The potter usually assumed the owner of the figurine would recognize the bearded gentleman leaning on the books.

All Staffordshire figurines are popular with collectors. Many copies have been made in recent years.

My friend purchased some tubular steel furniture. She says it was made by Thonet. I thought he just made bentwood furniture.

Michael Thonet started making bentwood furniture in Germany in 1830. He moved to Vienna in 1842. In 1850, he started making bentwood chairs for commercial use.

His five sons joined the company, and by 1856, it became known as Gebruder Thonet. Michael Thonet died in 1871.

In 1923, the company joined others to form Thonet-Kohn-Mundus, which began making tubular steel furniture. By 1940, the company moved its headquarters to the United States. Thonet, still in business, recently reissued some of its classic bentwood and tubular-steel furniture.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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