The origins of George Wade Pottery began in 1810 in Burslem with a small workshop and a single pottery oven, making mostly bottles and related pottery items. In the early 19th century, production gave way to the more profitable textile mills specialised ceramics' needs. George Wade Pottery continued to produce these textile ceramics along with some industrial ceramic items until a new line was developed in 1927.
To complement the technical side of production, a retail line of beautiful figurines, many Art Deco, was produced with a new finish called "cellulose". These figurines were so popular that animal figures were also added to the line. These new lines were short-lived, however, as the new cellulose finish proved to turn yellow and peel off with age. During the late 1930s some models were reissued with a high gloss underglaze finish but at the onset of WW II, production ceased of all non-essential ceramic items. Due to wartime restrictions, domestic ceramic production was limited to plain, undecorated dinnerware and teapots
In August of 1952, the war restriction was finally lifted and George Wade Pottery once again began production of decorated ware for the home. Following a huge drop in the demand for industrial ceramics after the war, George Wade Pottery decided to reintroduce their retail line of pre-war animal figurines in 1953. The new figurines, boxed in sets of 5, proved to be a far better success than even Wade could have imagined. These new miniature porcelain animal figurines were called "Whimsies".
Between 1953 and 1959 Wade produced 10 sets of Whimsies for retail sale with the last 5 sets each having a theme. During the '60s Wade decided to enter the premiums market by providing new miniature animals to be included as "one free" in each box of party crackers or tea bags. And once again, due to the popularity, Wade introduced a new line of Whimsies for retail sale in 1971. This second set of Whimsies consisted of 60 animals in 12 sets and was marketed progressively over the next 13 years in groups of 5.
Due to the length of manufacturing and such high volume of output, there has surfaced many variations of these Whimsies. This was a result of recreations of worn moulds or retooling of problem moulds. But, although there may be variations among these Whimsies, they all claim one significant feature - fine moulded parallel ridges on the underside of the base. This feature, lacking on the smooth underside of the 1st set of retail Whimsies, seems now to have become a trademark of sorts for all the Wade "Whimsies" to follow.
Over the years, Wade has produced several hundred of these solid porcelain mini figurines in dozens of different sets. The many ranges include dogs, cats, birds, snow animals, pets, wildlife, farm animals, dinosaurs, nursery rhyme figures, circus figures, miniature houses, leprechauns, monks and even Disney animals. All these figures are highly collectable and some are very valuable as they are becoming more scarce.
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