Beswick/Royal Albert Figurines: Beatrix Potter Collectables
Beswick/Royal Albert Figurines: Beatrix Potter Series
These collectible Beswick story book figurines make very popular presents not only for children, but for collectors as well. The Beatrix Potter china ornaments are beautifully crafted by artists - Graham Orwell, Alan Maslankowski, Ted Chawner, David Lyttleton, Arthur Gredington, Graham Tongue, Amanda Hughes-Lubeck and Albert Hallam, who have become famous for their work.
This article showcases my not insubstantial collection of Beswick/Royal Albert Figurines in the Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit series. As well as photographs and descriptions of the models I own, I will tell you a little about Beatrix Potter herself and how she came to write the Peter Rabbit series, and her rapid rise to fame. I will also tell you a little about the Beswick factory, the Beswick designers and the important significance of Beswick Backstamps.
My lifelong affection for Beatrix Potter figures began when I was given a Beswick figurine, Jeremy Fisher for my birthday sixty years ago. Appealing, loveable but faintly repellant, he travelled the world with me, a significant reminder of my childhood. This little figure lasted until I had children of my own and eventually, after losing one hand, which was reverently glued back somewhat amateurishly, he broke and was regretfully consigned to the dustbin.
Over the years I have gathered quite a large collection of Beswick figurines, which I would now like to sell, although I will keep one or two of my favourites.
So Who Was Beatrix Potter?
A potted history of Beatrix Potter and the Peter Rabbit books she wrote and illustrated herself:
Helen Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943) was born into a wealthy upper middle class Victorian family who had inherited money from the cotton trade. Her father, a barrister, was keen on art and photography and her parents mixed socially with writers, artists and politicians. They were too busy to spend much time with Beatrix and she was educated at home by a governess. Her younger brother Bertram was a close companion, but as he attended boarding school, she was quite a lonely child. Her father encouraged her artistic talent and she and her brother spent much time observing and sketching the numerous pets in their household and a variety of wildlife. Beatrix and Bertram kept many animals in their schoolroom, including mice, birds. frogs, lizards, snakes and a bat. Beatrix Potter's pets were often subjects for sketches and paintings, and were later to inspire the much-loved characters in her books.
In her 20's, Beatrix became a keen naturalist, studying and drawing plants and animals at museums, studying them under the microscope and writing about them; she was a gifted natural scientist and botanical illustrator and presented a botanical paper on Funghi to the Linnean Society. Later she became a farmer, sheep-breeder and conservationist.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit grew from some of her letters to the children of her former governess which she had illustrated seven years previously in 1893. After six rejections from publishers, she decided to publish the book herself in 1901 and on the strength of it was then taken on by the publisher Frederick Warne.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1902 with an initial 8000 copies printed and the tale has never been out of print since. Beatrix Potter went on to publish another 22 little books over the next 28 years. Her editor, Norman Warne, fell in love and proposed to her but, sadly, he died in 1905 before they could marry. Her books were very successful and the income enabled her to buy farming land in the Lake District. Tthere she met a local solicitor, William Heelis, who became her husband in 1913. As well as sheep farming, she developed a keen interest in conservation after becoming friendly with a founder member of the National Trust, and in her will she left the Trust 14 farms and over 4,000 acres .
Beatrix Potter is still one of the world's best-selling and best-loved children's authors. She wrote and illustrated a total of 28 books, including the 23 Tales which have been translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100 million copies.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock BP 3a: Handle Hidden, Small Eye Patch - Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock BP 3a - Very Rare Second Version
The figurine on the left is the standard Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock BP 3a Ca. 1970-ca.1974 (showing the spade handle and small eye patches). The figurine on the right is the very rare and valuable Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock in the second version, second variation (spade - handle hidden and small eye patches) - it has a rare BP 3a backstamp, only produced for one year, about 1974,
Measuring 3.5", 8.9cm high, it was designed by Graham Orwell and has a blue-grey jacket, pink waistcoat and yellow trousers.
Mr Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit BP 3c
Beswick Beatrix Potter Mr Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit
Mr Benjamin Bunny is seen here smacking Peter Rabbit's bottom - that wouldn't do at all these days, would it? He could be sued for assault!
Modeller: Alan Maslankowski, height 4", 10.1 cm.
Issued 1975 - 1995
Beswick Beatrix Potter - Susan 1983 - Believed to be Model BP3b
Beatrix Potter Susan, BP 3b:
Modeller David Lyttleton
Very rare back stamp "Frederick Warne plc 1983" (as opposed to Frederick Warne & Co), not even mentioned in Beswick's Collectables, although I have seen it elsewhere on the internet.
A rare backstamp would increase the value considerably.
The First Beatrix Potter Book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Was Very Popular - This encouraged Beatrix Potter to go on to write more and she became a very wealthy
In all, Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated 23
Peter Rabbit books and other tales,
listed below chronologically:
..1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit
· 1903 The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
· 1903 The Tailor of Gloucester
· 1904 The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
· 1904 The Tale of Two Bad Mice
· 1905 The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
· 1905 The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan
· 1906 The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
· 1906 The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit
· 1906 The Story of Miss Moppet
1907 The Tale of Tom Kitten
· 1908 The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
· 1908 The Tale of Samuel Whisker, or
. The Roly-Poly Pudding
· 1909 The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
· 1909 The Tale of Ginger and Pickles
· 1910 The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
· 1911 The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes
· 1912 The Tale of Mr. Todd
· 1913 The Tale of Pigling Bland
· 1917 Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes
· 1918 The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse
· 1922 Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes
· 1930 The Tale of Little Pig Robinson
Mr Tod BP6a
Beswick Beatrix Potter - Mr Tod BP6a
Mr Tod - a very foxy fox
Modeller: Ted Chawner
Height 4.75". 12/1 cm., issued l988 - 1993
Beswick Beatrix Potter - Appley Dapply BP2a - First Version "Bottle Out" - Appley Dapply BP 2a bottle out is the valuable more sought-after version,
Issued 1971 - 1975
Modeller: Albert Hallam
This Beswick Beatrix Potter Appley Dapply BP 2a figurine goes for about £150.
Tailor of Gloucester
Beswick Beatrix Potter - Tailor of Gloucester BP2a
Tailor of Gloucester is one of the less valuable Beswick figurines, so would make a good starter to a collection
Modeller: Arthur Gredington
Brown mouse, yellow bobbin of red thread
Beswick Beatrix Potter Foxy Whiskered Gentleman BP-2a
Foxy Whiskered Gentleman, BP2A - First Version, First Variation, Designed by Arthur Gredington
Foxy Whiskered Gentleman was issued between 1954 - 2002.
The backstamp on the figurine in the photograph indicates that it was actually issued between 1955-1975, so it is a very early version - In this particular version, Foxy Whiskered Gentleman is wearing a pale green jacket and trousers, and a pink waistcoat.
Height 4.75", 12.1 cm.
Sadly, he has a chipped ear, waistcoat and backstamp.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Mr Benjamin Bunny BP 2 Gold - Pipe Out and Dark Maroon Jacket
Beswick Beatrix Potter Mr Benjamin Bunny BP 2a Gold -
Modeller: Arthur Gredington, height 4.25" 10.8 cm.,
Mr Benjamin Bunny shown here is the earlier version issued between 1965 and 1974,which has his pipe out. There is an extremely rare earlier version with Mr Benjamin Bunny wearing a lilac jacket as opposed to the maroon jacket.
In the later versions, issued between 1970 and 2002, his pipe is in. There are numerous different backstamps, and the later issues are, on the whole, a lot less valuable.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Pig-Wig BP 3b - Beswick Beatrix Potter Pig-Wig - Black Pig with Blue Dress
Mr Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit BP 3c
Modeller: Albert Hallam, Height 4", 1972-82
There were two colour variations for Pig-Wig, Version 1 is extremely rare, so rare in fact that the standard reference book, "Beswick Collectables", does not even list the price - Pig-Wig is a grey pig in a pale blue dress.
In version 2, the one shown here, she is a black pig in a deep blue dress.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Sir Isaac Newton BP3b
Beswick Beatrix Potter Sir Isaac Newton BP3b
Sir Isaac Newton is my favourite Beatrix Potter Figurine - don't ask me why, I just love him!
Issued 1955 - 1972, Height: 3.75", 9.5 cm.
Modeller: Graham Tongue
This is one of the only figures with a backstamp using the words "Made in England" as opposed to the usual "England"
The colour and size of Sir Isaac Newton figurines may vary. He wears a pale green jacket and a yellow waistcoat with tan markings.
Backstamps on Beswick Figurines
Beswick, Royal Albert and Royal Doulton Backstamps
Back stamps are used by manufacturers to identify their work and are generally found on the underside of the figurine. They normally include the name of the manufacturer and, in the case of Beswick, there were many variations which could be used to deduce the model and date of issue. Some people collect rare backstamps, rather than the figurines they identify, and backstamps can considerably increase the value of an item if they are very rare.
The following information will assist you when you are building your collection of Beswick, Royal Albert and Royal Doulton Beatrix Potter figurines:
There were 25 different backstamp variations used in total:
BP1a Beswick Gold Circle (Beswick England written in a Circle Issued 1948-1954)
BP1b Beswick Gold Parallel Lines (Beswick England written in parallel lines used on a very limited amount of figures Issued 1949-1954)
BP2 Beswick Gold Oval (Beswick England written in an Oval shape Issued 1955-1972)
BP2b Beswick Transitional (Part Gold Script backstamp as on the BP2 and part BP3b backstamp Issued 1971-1972)
BP3a Beswick (Brown writing with no date stamp Issued 1973-1974)
BP3b Beswick (Brown writing Potter's with an "s" and the copyright date Issued 1974-1985)
BP3c Beswick (Brown writing Potter with no 's with the added Licensed By Copyrights and the copyright date Issued 1985-1988)
BP4 Beswick Doulton (Similar to the BP3c stamp but with the John Beswick Signature and the added Studio of Royal Doulton Issued 1988-1989)
BP5 Royal Albert Gold Crown (Gold stamp to mark the changeover to the Royal Albert Label, only used on six Character Figurines Issued 1989)
BP6a Royal Albert Small Crown (Brown stamp used on the smaller figures Issued 1989-1998)
BP6b Royal Albert Large Crown (Brown stamp used on the larger size figures Issued 1993-1998)
BP7 Beswick Doulton (100 in an Oval shape with the writing Peter Rabbit 1893-1993 F.Warne & Co used to mark the 100th Anniversary of Peter Rabbit Issued 1993)
BP8a Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware found on only two figures Jemima & Her Ducklings and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle Washing Issued 1998)
BP8b Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware marked 1947-1997 used to mark the 50th year of production of Beswick Beatrix Potter figurines Issued 1997)
BP8c Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figurines with the added Limited Edition numbers only used on three Tableaus Issued 1998-2000)
BP9a Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware marked with Beswick Centenary 1894-1994 marking the 100th Anniversary of the Beswick company only used on Jemima Puddle-Duck Issued 1994)
BP9b Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on six figurines painted with Gold Highlights Issued 1997-1998)
BP9c Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figures with the added Limited Edition numbers Issued 1997-2000)
BP9d Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figures with the addition of the Peter Rabbit and Friends logo Issued 1997-2000)
BP10a Beswick Doulton (Beswick "B" Black Crest stamp Issued 1998-2002)
BP10b Beswick Doulton (Black stamp Beswick written arched over Made In England Issued 1998-2002)
BP10c Beswick Doulton (A variation of BP10b but all writing is curved around the figures circular base Issued 1998-2002)
BP10d Beswick Doulton (Beswick "B" Gold Crest Special Gold Edition with the Peter Rabbit and Friends logo only used on Sweet Peter Rabbit Issued 1999)
BP11a Beswick Doulton (Circular stamp with the John Beswick Signature and the "P" reference number of the figure produced on nine Gloss Finish figures and six Satin Glaze Finish figures Issued 2001-2002)
BP11b Beswick Doulton (Circular stamp same as BP11a but on marked Limited Edition figures Issued 2001-2002)
Beswick Beatrix Potter - Benjamin Wakes up
Benjamin Wakes Up BP 6a
Modeller: Amanda Hughes-Lubeck
Height: 2.25", 5.7 cm., issued 1991 - 1997
Benjamin Wakes Up is not a very valuable figurine, but he's quite cute.