Figure of the month

The New Marriage Act group

courtesy Sheppard's Irish Auction House
April 2020

​I would not normally put up a damaged figure as Figure of the Month but this example of “The New Marriage Act” really caught my eye in the O’Mahoney Collection sale by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House (24th March 2020). In New Marriage Act figure groups, the bride and groom stand before a parson, whilst a young clerk beseeches the heavens for approval of the union. These groups commemorate the passage of The New Marriage Act of 1823, legislation that reinforced marriage.

Prior to 1823, persnickety marriage law made marriage difficult, and also made it quite easy to make a mistake. If a couple failed to comply with all the rules, their marriage was not legal and either party could seek an annulment even many years later. Even if both parties were happy to end their marriage, an annulment had disastrous financial consequences for children who unexpectedly found themselves declared illegitimate. Society expected marriage to last for life, so the New Marriage Act 1823 no longer made it possible to void a marriage for want of a minor mistake in form or fact either before or during the ceremony.  

The reason for my particular attraction to this figure is the fact that the wonderful early blue-tinged glaze is so abundant and visible and this is particularly so on the photograph of the plaque on the figure (left). This example is strikingly similar to that illustrated in Myrna Schkolne’s Staffordshire Figures 1780 to 1840 Volume 4, page 15, figure 139.29.

courtesy Sheppard's Irish Auction House

More Figures of the month

Prince of Wales

September 2023

This is a rare figure of Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, second child and eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He stands with his right hand resting on the head of a brown and white dog, and his left hand on the barrel of a rifle.

Sailors with cannon

August 2023

This is a rare Crimean War figure representing two naval gunners with a cannon. One sailor stands upright with his right foot on the cannon, and his right hand to his head as if saluting.  The second sailor is kneeling while priming the cannon. 

Winter and Summer

July 2023

This is a rare pair of Staffordshire figures representing two of the four seasons, Winter and Summer.  Each figure stands a little over 6 ½” tall and dates to around 1850 – 1860.

Lord Raglan

June 2023

This is a very rare and desirable titled Staffordshire figure of FitzRoy James Henry Somerset Raglan, aka Field Marshal Lord Raglan.  The figure stands a little over 13” tall and dates to around 1854.

Pair of white cats

May 2023

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

April 2023

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. 


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