This example illustrates a 20th century German reproduction of a 19th century French copy of English porcelains originally made in the 18th century. What could be the harm in that?
None at all, if you collect dog ornaments and you pick up this pair in your local mall for a couple of dollars from the shelf where they are displayed with the thousands of other affordable knick-knacks. If on display at home they happen to get knocked off the window sill, a short trip back to the mall will replace them without any trouble. However, if displayed in an antique and collectibles shop or mall, with a ticket reading 'Chelsea Gold Anchor Staffordshire Spaniels Germany' we enter a whole new territory. On a map it would be called the Land of Deception.
Consider: You are a new collector, discovering the enormous breadth of the wonderful world of antique ceramics. You have bought your first reference book and recall pictures of Chelsea figures having been illustrated along with a black and white drawing of one of that factory’s marks. So you have become aware Chelsea is an important maker's name and it equates to 'antique' in your mind already. And you know they did use an anchor mark.
So, as a novice, what catches your eye on that ticket? Yes, "Chelsea Gold Anchor." You experience the thrill of discovering this rare and desirable duo and with pleasure you hand over quite a few of your novice dollars. Perhaps you privately expect they will reside for years in your china cabinet, to be lovingly handed down in future years as Grandmother's Chelsea dogs.
On the other hand, an experienced collector browsing for Chelsea porcelain and chancing upon seeing this same pair advertised as if originals might thereafter immediately turn on their heels to leave the store they were seen in and never return. Items like this advertised to be something they are not are insults to the knowledgeable collector. It should not surprise the seller that such buyers will expect many other items they are selling to be suspect, too, and thus they decide not to pursue delving deeper inside the shop.
The Chelsea production was always an expensive luxury, overtly appearing in advertisements of the time as aimed at 'The Quality and Gentry....', with royal and aristocratic patrons distinguishing it from the mainstream of the contemporary English porcelains. Leaving aside the possibly more complicated area of distinguishing the soft paste porcelain and gentle glazes of most 18th century English porcelains from the hard porcelains and glassy glazes of the continental wares and the later bone china which superseded in most factories, the Chelsea ceramics have a refinement of modeling and an elegance to the painting which is in marked contrast to the coarse moulding and crude decoration of the dogs seen in these images. In stark contrast, these dogs are ‘stiff’ and lifeless in their modeling and the decoration is awkward, even clumsy and careless.
The 19th century Staffordshire potteries did indeed produce animal figures, but they are as far apart from Chelsea in quality as they are geographically. And both production regions are years and countries distant from the pair in question, as well as in class and value.
In the case of the anchor shape mark on this item, the authentic gold anchor mark used on some Chelsea pieces, when it appears, between 1756 – 1769, is always neatly painted and, important to note, it is ALWAYS small, (any such mark over a quarter inch in length should ring instant alarm bells) and it is never the ungainly mark seen here. A gold anchor can occasionally appear on slightly later Derby pieces and an anchor can be incorporated into the marks of other factories, but none will be confused with that of Chelsea once the collector gains some experience. In the 19th century, some French factories, most notably that of Edmé and Emil Samson, produced good quality items in the style of, and copied from, many famous factories and can be a further pitfall for an unwary collector. While it is generally accepted today that the work might not have been intended to deceive, but was more in the spirit of homage, unscrupulous dealers have been known to attempt to pass of a Samson piece as genuine. Close examination can often reveal attempts to scratch off any mark indicating its true origin. Although Samson’s contention that deception was not the intention is perhaps best regarded as disingenuous, in view of the company’s deliberate use of the maker’s marks of other factories, a robust defense can be made from the company’s ceramic body and glaze which are clearly distinguishable from those of the originals. Nevertheless, Samson pieces are accepted collectibles and, with the caveat of correct ‘ticket titling’, do not fall into the same category of offense as the dogs illustrated.
Note that in the title 'Germany' is named. So we can see that we have toured Europe before finally reaching the genuine origin of these two very new items, which actually date to the latter end of the 20th century, post-dating the reunification of Germany in 1990. The German mark shown on this pair is easily confused with similar marks that pre-date World War II so, as is always true for so many 'collectible' items, one must look beyond a suggestive mark and examine the item itself. Modern Germany is producing these dogs, and variations, in significant quantity but the ever more mechanistic application of the decoration of the recent output easily identifies them, in conjunction with the anachronistic flower shapes.
The biggest lesson for all shop owners to take away from the unlucky collector's experience outlined above is to research your items well enough to be sure of what you are offering for sale. And never to associate prime keywords with an item when they will be irrelevant, incorrect or misleading. When selling online remember, too, that describing an item with keywords that do not relate to it constitutes keyword spam. Knowledgeable online shoppers are no different than those who may enter a brick and mortar establishment. Disreputable sellers can very quickly gain a name for themselves as a vendor to be avoided by those in the know.
This particular pair of dogs show damage, too. Note the broken paws as shown. Damage is frequently found on new reproductions due in large part to low quality construction components, the haste and the lack of care in their making. Unbelievably, though damage of practically any kind being found on items of this caliber should encourage their proud owner to swiftly aim what remains of them at the nearest trash receptacle, some may actually use the existence of damage as proof of an age unsupportable by any other visible device. And then they will offer them for a high price with that conviction.
Both pieces in the pair illustrated are stamped GERMANY underneath, as can be seen, yet are marked with a bold (and completely wrong) anchor mark on top.
Each measures 3 and 1/2 inches tall.