This fine Staffordshire quill holder has elements of the Victorian movement toward nature. Here, a large well-modeled mother bird is doing its best to guard its nest from an intruder. Moving around the nest are three yellow fledglings as they are fleeing the green and black striped snake that has slithered up the tree and is hovering over the nest. (The snake has an almost kindly appearance. Perhaps it is not a snake at all, but a predecessor of dear Oliver J. Dragon, of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame.)
This is a fairly large quill holder as it has two cylindrical receptacles for quills and several animals. The mother bird is picked out in gold with a black beak, while her youngsters are yellow with black beaks. There are small flowers and leaves dotted around the nest. The bird is decorated in gold leaf, as are the spill holder that resembles a tree trunk and the two quill receptacles.
The piece is in excellent condition for its age and type. The gold leaf decoration has rubbed somewhat in several places, but on the whole it is present overall. The next has good color retention with the yellow, green, orange and purple still vibrant. There is a bit of wear on the bottom edge of the back of the tree trunk, but because this is on the back and the bottom, this is not seen from the front. There is a tiny bit of restoration on the snake’s head. On the inside of one of the quill receptacles is an original kiln effect.
It measures about 3 by 3-1/2 inches, with a height of 4-1/8 inches.
This is an exceptionally rare quill holder with wonderful painting detail as well as fine modeling. It would be a superb addition to any collection.
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Mid-19th Century Victorian Quill Holder with Spill Vase