Personal Effects, Nov. 25

Published 8:43 am Monday, November 27, 2017

Question: Jerry, I’ve had this for years. Actually, I bought it at a yardsale in Harrodsburg. I’ve always loved it but I’ve never had much luck in finding who made it or what it is. 

It depicts a small Irish village scene and it’s marked on the bottom with an old paper label that says W. Chambers and the rest I can’t quite make out. Can you tell me anything about it or what it could be worth? Thanks for your time and effort in looking at this.

Answer: I love it. I agree that it is an Irish or Scottish village scene. I love the folky, primitive look to it. Just look at the enormous wheelbarrow that nearly dwarfs the building that it sits in front of. 

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It’s just a decorative piece — a figurine for no better words, just to be beautiful on your mantel.

I’ve combed just about everything source that I can think of, to no avail. Every pottery reference book, auction site and the internet and found nothing remote to it. The phrase “cottage industry” pops into my head. Cottage industries were how things were manufactured, on a larger than home production scale. This was before the invention of mega machines and corporations churning stuff out by the train car. 

Many, many tourist souvenirs were made this way and this could be the case. This type of industry was very common in Great Britain, Germany and other countries too. 

Here’s how it worked. One town could be in the molding or casting phase creating hundreds of these items. These would be send to another town, village, neighborhood, or even a single home and they would be painted. Sent off again to another location and gilded or other details would be added and finally sent to a true factory where they would be glazed, fired and shipped out. 

Generations of whole families would work on them. Earning a much needed income of two or three cents each. Mass production just decimated many families that relied on this for income. 

Or, it could, and very likely could be, an original piece of art. We may never know. I feel that it dates to at least the early 1900s. It’s got a homey appeal, like plaid woolen throws and a roaring fire. Without knowing more about the artist or company, I’ve got the feeling that at a good antiques show it would be priced at about $125. With more information this could change. 

It’s a great piece and I’ll keep looking and will let you and the readers know if I find more information on it. Thanks for sharing it