The SylvaC range of model animals, first produced as cheap and cheerful ornaments, is the focus of a fast-growing collectors' market. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


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Chatelaine's Antiques and Appraisals Magazine > Collectibles > Feature: SylvaC Animals

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Shaw and Copestake wares were first marked with a stamp of a daisy and "Made in England".  later models had bases impressed with "SylvaC" and the model number.



Identical wares were produced bearing either the SylvaC or Falcon Ware backstamp, and sometimes both of them can be seen together. The two companies actually amalgamated in 1957.

 The SylvaC range of model animals, first produced as cheap and cheerful ornaments, is the focus of a fast-growing collectors' market.

 One of the liveliest collectors' markets of the last decade has been that for SylvaC ware, produced by the firm of Shaw and Copestake at the Sylvan works in Longton, Staffordshire.

 From its beginnings in 1894, the factory had produced highly ornate vases, clock sets, jugs and basins, but in the late 1920s there was a dramatic increase in production with the introduction of new lines of a different kind, the novelties and fancies.

 Around 6,000 different lines were produced, including ornaments, ashtrays, vases, bowls, wall plaques and vases, cups, character jugs, plates and money boxes.

 It is these fancy wares that are enjoying great popularity nowadays, particularly the animal models and animal related pieces that were produced originally for the cheaper end of the giftware market.

 Unusual examples are now eagerly sought after.  Over the years, several different finishes and glazes were used and experimented with, but it is the coloured matt glazes that most interest today's collectors.

 In the 1930s, these popular wares were given the brand name SylvaC, from the name of the works and the initials of the firm's founders (the name Sylvan had already been registered by another company).  The majority of models were also given a mould number, usually found impressed on the base of the piece.

The numbers did not run in sequence.  The principal reason for this was that the firm was associated with Thomas Lawrence, makers of Falcon Ware, who used a similar numbering system on their models.

 Identical wares were produced bearing either the SylvaC or Falcon Ware backstamp, and sometimes both of them can be seen together.  The two companies actually amalgamated in 1957.  SylvaC continued in production until 1982, when the company went into voluntary liquidation.

 Although they could never be mistaken for high art, the range, affordability and undoubted charm of Sylvac's animal models has made them popular with collectors.


 As a rule, because the matt glaze wares are easier to identify and more collectable, they tend to be at the higher end of the price range. It is easier to find a bargain in the earlier production cellulose items.

 These are marked only 'Made in England', with an impressed number, and are not always recognized as SylvaC.

Bright glaze pieces, most of which date from the 1950s, are often credited to other potteries because of unclear markings. These, too, can be bought fairly cheaply.

 As with any mass-produced pottery, quantity, rather than perfect quality, was the order of the day, so it is not unusual to find pieces with some of the glaze missing and lumps, chips and flaws glazed over. Many also appear with fine crazing in the glaze.

 This need not affect price, but cracks which go through both sides of the pottery body are a different matter. Try to examine pieces in a good light before buying.

 Damaged pieces should be avoided, or at least have their price greatly reduced.  An increasing number of restored examples are appearing.  Careful examination in good light should reveal them.


 Since the Shaw and Copestake factory stopped operating, many of the original SylvaC moulds have been sold on to other firms, and copies of the animal figures have surfaced recently.

 Not strictly fakes, these pieces have a finish that bears little or no resemblance to their original, genuine, SylvaC counterparts.

 Antiques shops and specialist china dealers tend not to stock SylvaC.  Although fairs and collectors' markets are the obvious hunting grounds, it is worth having a look at local auctions, car boot sales and jumble sales.

 Some of the more out-of-the-way gift shops may still have new stock stored away in a back room or even on their shelves.  It was said that at one time every household in the country had at least one piece of SylvaC, so it's worth asking older relatives to turn out their cupboards or search their attics.



Collecting Sylvac Pottery
Stella M. Ashbrook; Paperback
Sylvac Price Guide to Falcon Factory Items Mick Collins, Denny Collins; Paperback
The SylvaC Companion Susan Jean Verbeek; Paperback

Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century Companion Price Guide
by Stephen Mullins

Toby & Character Jugs of the 20th Century and Their Makers
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