Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Weatherby & Sons "Falcon Ware" - Walrus and Queen of Hearts

This is my first pass at the section on this manufacturer in my in-progress book.  As I (hopefully) unearth more information on this company and figures, this section will expand.  Or not.  Who knows?

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Falcon Ware by J.H. Weatherby and Sons (UK)

Falcon Ware was a company located in the English town of Stoke-on-Trent, home to Weetman and approximately all the other pottery companies in the UK.  This company had a long and storied history, dating all the way back to 1891 under the parent name of J.H Weatherby and Sons, Ltd., and closing permanently in April, 2000 after 109 years of continuous operation as a family run business.  Sadly the buildings themselves no longer exist.

Image courtesy thepotteries.org

Falcon Ware takes its name from the name of the pottery works itself, which was an existing, though disused, pottery works when purchased by Weatherby in 1891.  The majority of its output in the first half century were traditional table ware, but in the 1950s they began to make nursery items, and novelty animal figures.  Enter Walt Disney.

In 1958 Weatherby planned a series of at least seven figures based on Disney's Alice in Wonderland.  On February 2-6 of 1959 they exhibited at the Blackpool Gifts and Fancy Goods Fair at the Imperial Hotel.  By this the range had been reduced to six figures consisting of Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Walrus, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat.  The figures and their appearance at Blackpool was advertised in at least one periodical in the UK (Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review, February 1959), and price sheets from Weatherby are known to exist.

Advert from Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review, February 1959

Sadly the deal seems to not have been completed or perhaps canceled, and most of the range never produced.  But, there does exist an archive photo from the Weatherby family that I have reproduced below.  I have been unable to contact either the author or the Weatherby family, and the publisher is no longer in business.

Image courtesy of Susan Jean Verbeek, The Falcon Ware Story, (Pottery Publications, 1996)

Fortunately at least two of these figures appear to have been sold in some fashion.  Multiple examples of the Walrus and the Queen of Hearts have been seen over the years, and they are presented here.  Unmarked as they are, for years I suspected these might be Disney, but more likely knock-offs.  It wasn't until I discovered the Verbeek book that I realized their true history.

The Walrus

This was the first Weatherby Falcon Ware figure I acquired.  While I had no idea what it was, and it was not sold as Disney, it just looked right.  The design and style of him just screams Disney, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the Weetman figure.  Not surprising given that the two factories were less than four miles apart.

Scarcity:  πŸ”ŽπŸ”ŽπŸ”ŽπŸ”Ž

Value: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²

The Queen of Hearts

This figure of the Queen of Hearts is what led to my discovery of the history of the Weatherby Falcon Ware.  The auction listing actually referenced the Verbeek book in the description, and I was able to get a copy of the book even before the auction closed.  The look of this figure marks it as clearly Disney.  I am not aware of any other incarnation of the Queen that has the same color scheme and design as in the Disney version.  All this figure is missing is the black stripes in the front of her dress!

Scarcity:  πŸ”ŽπŸ”ŽπŸ”ŽπŸ”ŽπŸ”Ž

Value: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²

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