Collectors of porcelain figurines will be familiar with the wide range of stamps that manufacturers use to mark their work. Sometimes referred to as ‘seals’ or ‘back seals’, these markings are generally found at the bottom of the figure and will always include the manufacturer’s name at a minimum.
John Beswick followed the practice at his Beswick factory and the range of marks or stamps that can be found on Beswick parts provide invaluable insight into both the provenance and value of the part itself.
A very important question that sometimes arises with the Beswick figurines is whether the lack of a mark or seal on the bottom indicates that it is not a genuine piece. The answer to this is no. There are a lot of Beswick figurines in circulation that are unmarked and the Beswick factory was well known for its unfinished pieces, especially on Friday afternoons!
The earliest Beswick stamps, dating from shortly after World War I, take the form of a simple circle or oval shape made up of the words “Beswick England”. Printed in green, it will be indicative of one of the first pieces. By 1936 the stamp had become “Beswick Ware Made in England” with beautiful flowing handwriting and the circular or oval shape had completely disappeared. In each case, the mark or seal appeared in the middle of the bottom of the piece.
1954 saw the introduction of a printed mark and the inclusion of the serial number of the individual piece as well. The words ‘BESWICK ENGLAND’ appear in capital letters, this time in a semicircle around the inside edge of the base of the part and underneath will be the serial number.
In the late 1960s, Beswick Pottery began to produce the first in a series of special figurine collections, the most famous of which is, of course, the Beatrix Potter collection. This required giving much more information on the stamp, for example you will see ‘© WALT DISNEY PROD BESWICK ENGLAND’ at the bottom of the Winnie the Pooh series, which was produced between 1968 and 1990. Another good example would be the Alice in Wonderland series. Wonderland produced between 1973 and 1983, where the branding would include the words “ALICE SERIES” Queen of Hearts “BESWICK Made in England” followed by a Royal Doulton copyright notice. The first Beatrix Potter figurine stamps are similar in appearance and include the copyright notice from F Warne & Co Ltd. Some, but not all, will also be dated.
Later, Beswick, then owned by Royal Doulton, introduced a gold script mark for limited editions and reverted to “Beswick Ware” on the mark in some variations.