SOME CAUTIONS FOR COLLECTORS!
Some Shelley items, mostly china, but at least one range of earthenware, are now considered to be sufficiently valuable to be worth faking, although to date this is an uncommon problem.
CATEGORIES OF FAKES
Fakes fall into three main groups:
- Copies intended to deceive: These are copies of Shelley items, mostly figurines, often made in moulds taken from originals, complete with copied Shelley backstamps. The copies are often somewhat cruder and somewhat smaller than the originals (because of air drying and firing shrinkage after removal from the moulds). Known examples include some of Mabel Lucy Attwell’s Boo-Boo figures and John Bull character jugs.
- Added Shelley Backstamps: These are other manufacturers wares, originally without backstamps, which have copies of Shelley backstamps added to enhance their value. The backstamps range from crude to excellent, but will have been applied over the original glaze and, even if refired, can often still be detected as such by feeling. Genuine Shelley china pieces had their backstamps applied under the glaze and the stamped area is normally very smooth. Known examples include some figurines, one crested miniature, and some tea ware.
- Doctored Shelley Wares: These are genuine Shelley pieces which have been further enhanced or decorated to make them more valuable. Known examples include white ware plates converted to all-over florals, and relatively plain items with added Mabel Lucy Attwell transfers.
CONFUSING ITEMS NOT FAKES
- Hand-painted China: Amateur china painters have sometimes further decorated Shelley items with scenes and patterns. Some of these decorations are of very high quality and were not intended to deceive.
- Shelley Patterns and Backstamps on Royal Albert Cup Shapes: After Shelley Potteries was sold in 1966, the new owners used up stocks of some Shelley patterns on Royal Albert tea wares, including Shelley backstamps. A number of these cup shapes are illustrated in the Club’s Pocket Book of Cup Shapes and on this website in Cup Shapes Gallery 2.
- Similar Potters Marks: A currently working English potter impresses his initials of W and C into the sides of his earthenware pots. His stamp is very similar to the W & Co used by Wileman and Co. and at least one of his pieces has been advertised for sale on the internet as a Wileman piece. His stamp lacks the “&” and the “o” and is impressed on the side of his pots, not printed on the base.
- Backstamps which include Foley: From the late 1890s and up to 1910 Wileman and Company used “The Foley China” and “Foley Potteries” as trade names in some of their backstamps. Other potteries in the Foley district also used Foley in their backstamps, including E. Brain & Co. (Foley China) and James Kent (Old Foley) and their wares are sometimes erroneously offered for sale as Wileman and Co. (Wileman & Co adopted Shelley as their trade name in 1910 because they could not register Foley for their exclusive use).