Collecting on a Budget ~ Crested China

Goss Crested WareFrom the 1840’s onward, the development of Britain’s railway system gave birth to what was increasingly to become a popular feature of Late Victorian society, the “seaside holiday”, the popularity of which continues unabated to this day. This in turn stimulated the demand for “souvenirs”, and in the 1880’s, the firm of W.H. Goss began to produce a range of miniature porcelain pots in the form of ancient Greek and Roman vases, each emblazoned with the coat-of-arms of the town in question to supply this lucrative market. Such was their popularity, that other companies based in “The Potteries” soon followed suit, and the products of Arcadian, Shelley, Grafton and Willow are today, like Goss, widely collected. Over some forty years, the range of models produced expanded to take in animals, buildings, and, during the later years, following the First World War, items of military interest.

While it is true that some rare examples change hands for large sums of money, the vast majority of crested ware models can be sourced and purchased without difficulty on a relatively modest budget. Given the wide variety of models produced, it is possible to build a collection around a wide number of themes ~ Coats of arms of a particular city, town or county say, heraldic devices relating to a particular family, or perhaps pieces relating to WW1. Other sought after models include fonts, lighthouses and cottages, some of which however, particularly in the case of Goss, do tend these days to be rather expensive.

As with all collecting, the usual caveats apply ~ Whatever your budget, buy the best that you can afford. Insofar as is possible, stick to buying only perfect pieces, not difficult in this sector as {a} the fine porcelain from which crested ware is manufactured makes cracks and chips easy to spot, and, {b} the generally modest value of individual pieces means that the cost of restoration is rarely worthwhile.