Antiques Column: Enchanting pigs appealing to the eye

During lockdown one my wife and I walked and walked, every day. We lost a great deal of weight (which my wife didn’t need to lose, I have to add).

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 6:00 am
Wemyss ware.
Wemyss ware.

During lockdown two we fell out with walking and I (not my wife) put all my weight back on. Now we are walking again and we have been watching spring and summer erupt in the fields. This eruption of green reminds me of the wonderful naturalistic designs of Wemyss ware.

Wemyss ware was first produced by the Fife pottery in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1882 and was the invention of Robert Heron, pottery owner and Karel Nekola, a gifted designer from Bohemia. The name comes from the Wemyss family of Wemyss castle who were very enthusiastic patrons of the new wares.

In 1932 production moved to Bovey Pottery in Devon and under the direction of Joseph Nekola, Karel’s son, they continued to make Wemyss ware until the pottery’s closure in 1957.

Wemyss took inspiration from the British countryside with very naturalistic designs including flowers, fruit, birds and animals. They are probably most famous for the cabbage rose designs and the range of cat and pig figures. Although the pottery was successful in its day, popularity has been cemented by collectors, who included the Queen Mother, with rare examples of Wemyss ware realising very high prices at auction.

The pigs are a particular favourite of collectors with some being more prized and so more expensive to acquire. The larger pigs, up to 45cms, are very sought after.

The pigs were designed for children’s nurseries in wealthy stately homes, being sold exclusively by Thomas Goode in Mayfair. The bright, bold and colourful designs stood out against a stark white background, making these enchanting pigs very appealing to the eye.