I started buying Staffordshire figures when the collecting bug got me after buying three at an auction.I don't think there could have been any Staffordshire collectors in the room at the time as I got them rather cheaply.Flatback figures as they are known were made without decoration on the back, as they were usually placed against a wall or chimneybreast in Victorian houses, to add some colour.
Before this discovery, there were no colours that could stand the high temperatures of the glazing kilns.
Prior to this discovery, only overglaze enamel colours, applied after glazing, were used on figures, a method that was to continue alongside the use of cobalt blue.
Cobalt blue is an indicator of the period between 18, and was widely used.
After 1865 cobalt blue was no longer in use; and overglaze enamel colours were used exclusively. By the1870's most figures were produced in white, and a less expensive form of gilding was introduced, which was painted on after firing which made it a much cheaper method of production.
The gilding used is also a good guide to dating; the early form of gilding is called "best gold", a softly coloured gold, applied at the same time as the overglaze enamels; later gilding, "bright gold", is harsher and shinier. Flatback Staffordshire figures crowned their fireplace mantels; transferware dishes lined plate racks and sideboards in their large dining rooms.
If the figure is dirty, stand it in a plastic bowl of warm soapy water and use a small sponge or soft toothbrush to clean the crevices. On every table stood figures, animals, vases, and other ornaments produced in the thousands by the Staffordshire potteries.
Taking care not to get water inside the figure through the air escape hole in the back. A combination of the right clays, inventive potters such as Josiah Wedgwood and available labour, often children, made the Staffordshire district in the centre of the china industry.
Many small forgotten factories as well as the giants such as Spode, Wedgwood, Adams, clustered in the towns of Burslem, Cobridge, Fenton, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall, now incorporated in the present day town of Stoke-on-Trent.
Thousands of transferware patterns printed on dinnerware poured out of factories and across the Atlantic to eager American buyers.