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What's Up Magazine

Antique Dogs

Nov 09, 2010 05:02PM ● By Anonymous

Artists have immortalized dogs for thousands of years. Books, figurines, prints, and paintings from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries provide fertile ground for today’s collector of antique dogs.
Staffordshire is a district in England known for its pottery. Figurines of dogs, particularly spaniels and poodles, were favorite subjects. They were often sold in pairs. Because so many of these figurines were produced, and later reproduced, Staffordshire figures of other dog breeds such as foxhounds can bring twice as much money for a similar size and period item.

Marguerite Kirmse was an English artist and dog devotee who created both detailed etchings and small bronze dog sculptures. Author and illustrator of Dogs in the Field, published in 1935, she lived from 1880-1954. Other highly desirable books sought by book collectors are The Works of Sir Edwin Landseer by W. Cosmo Markhouse, published in 1875, and The Powers of the Dog by A. Croxton Smith, published in 1910, with 20 color plates by Maud Earl, a well-known dog portrait artist.

While dogs are an important component of English sporting prints, they came into their own in the 17th century in the works of Francis Barlow, George Stubbs, and various artist members of the Sartorius family.
One of the most prolific and sought-after dog artists is Henry Alken, who signed himself “Ben Tallyho.” He appeared even more prolific due to the combined efforts of his three sons and uncle who were also both artists and Alkens. One son, Henry Gordon Alken, often signed his father’s name or initials to his own work. While experts can discern the difference between a genuine Ben Tallyho and the work of one of his sons, collectors are advised to only buy Alkens that have been authenticated.

Sydenham Edwards, an established botanical artist, had ambitions of publishing a quarterly periodical devoted to dogs. Twelve issues were published, commencing in 1800, and included color prints of 23 breeds, before Edwards had to shut down the presses. These issues are highly prized by collectors today.

On a mass-market level, advertising items such as salt and pepper shakers in the image of Nipper, the RCA Victor trademark, which were given away in the 1930s, are desirable collectibles. Walt Disney character dogs such as Pluto, Lady and The Tramp, and more recently one of the 101 Dalmatians are providing the dog antiques of the future. If you love dogs, you won’t have to search far for a dog-related antique or collectible.