Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian soldier and patriot who helped unify Italy. In 1864, he visited England and was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Garibaldi and his “red shirts” were heroes in the story of Italian independence, and at least 16 different figures of him were produced by Staffordshire potters.
This figure is 8.5 inches high and can be found in Pugh page C295, plate 98, figure 285.
Garibaldi takes the biscuit
Garibaldi received a rapturous reception in England in April 1864. It is said that never before in history had there been such a large spontaneous gathering as the one that cheered him through the streets of London. Aristocrats and politicians vied for the opportunity to host and dine with him, whilst the middle and working classes expressed their admiration for the General by adorning their walls and mantelpieces with his image.
As well as the Staffordshire figures, Garibaldi also appeared on plates, cups and tankards and his name was adopted by pubs and taverns across the country.
But perhaps the most English of accolades was made by a Bermondsey biscuit company, who created the Garibaldi biscuit, a sort of currant sandwich made of sweet pastry. 150 years later and you will still find the Garibaldi being dunked into cups of tea, though it continues to be much loathed by children, who rechristened it ‘the squashed fly biscuit’.
More Figures of the month
Pair of white cats
This is a rare pair of seated cats, approximately 13 ½” tall. They are decorated in bright gold and date to around 1870-1880. Harding Book Two illustrates this impressive pair on page 239.
Tiger and lion
This is a rare figure of a tiger and lion lying in front of a palm tree. Circus acts with wild animals became very popular in England during the 1830s and it is possible that this figure as well as other animal figures commemorated these events.
This is a rare figure portraying Lady Godiva seated sidesaddle on horseback. The figure is titled “Lady Godiva” and is decorated in the manner of the Parr factory, with soft yellow, green, and brown brushstrokes.
This is an early Staffordshire figure of a woman standing on a grassy pedestal, with a coin in her extended hand. The figure is titled “Lost Piece” and represents the biblical verses found in Luke 15:8-10.
This is a gilt script titled figure of William Shakespeare with his right arm resting on a book atop a pedestal. Next to the pedestal is a sloped watch holder with a clock face painted inside, sitting atop a tree decorated with grapes.
Children on Saint Bernard dogs
This is a very rare pair of children seated sideways on Saint Bernards. More common figures have the children laying down or seated facing forward. Others have the rear arms moulded into the figures, instead of being separately moulded as these are. These figures are approximately 10” tall and date to around 1840-1850.