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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

"Crest" Or "Goss" Miniatures

Author: Alberta Illman

( Article orginally published December 1963 )

From the turn of the century to the First World War, Crest miniatures were popular souvenirs of towns and seaside resorts in the British Isles. These minute copies of museum or historical jugs or urns, colorfully decorated with crest of city or town, were originated at the Goss Potteries in Staffordshire, by Mr. W. H. Goss. He developed them in the delicate ivory-porcelain for which his potteries were justly famous. Every place in Great Britain that could boast a coat of arms was represented. It was "the thing," when one went away from home, to bring back to friends or family a Goss miniature; and few English homes were without a collection of Goss china.

Soon other potting firms were making similar miniatures, some of them very fine. But through the years, somehow, all of the Crest pieces, by whatever maker, came to be commonly designated as "Goss miniatures," and are so known to collectors.

Since these were made for home consumption, they were not marked "Made in England" as they would have been, in compliance with the McKinley Tariff Act of 1891, if they had been intended for exports. Those found on this continent today have been brought here either by visitors to Great Britain or by immigrating families who have treasured them. An exception is the toby miniature pictured, with the Canadian coat of arms. This was made for the Canadian market, and is clearly marked "Made in England."

The decorations, usually of decals, hand-touched with enamel, sometimes included a piquant verse or quotation. One featuring the Yorkshire coat of arms explains the device with this verse:

A Flea, A Fly, A Magpie, an' bacon flitch
Ist' Yorkshermans Coit of Arms
And t'reason they've chozzen these
things so rich
Is becoss they hav'all speshal charms.
A Flea will bite whoivver it can-- An soa, my lads, will a Yorksherman!
A Fly will sup with Dick, Tom or Dan
An' soa, by gow! will a Yorksherman!
A Magpie can talk for a terrible span --
An' soa an all, can a Yorksherman.
A Flitch is no gooid whol its hung,
ye'll agree
No more is a Yorksherman, don't ye

The Goss Potteries are still making fine china, but they no longer produce the souvenir miniatures. Frequently encountered backstamps of other firms which turned out crest souvenirs in their heyday are Arcadian China, Carlton China, Florentine China, Nautilus Porcelain. Some of them still produce Crest novelties, but today's pieces, of pure white bone china, lack the delicate ivory tints of Goss originals.

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