Why is this pottery ornament called a Fairing?
Why is this pottery ornament called a Fairing? The answer is that they were given away as prizes at fun fairs: no goldfish or coconut prizes then!
They were popular from about the Mid 19th Century until the outbreak of WW1, when most manufacturers’ attention was diverted to the war effort.
The fairings tend to be small, porcelain ornaments depicting domestic, comic, or political scenes. They are quite decorative and usually have a caption on the side. The one in the main image reads The last in bed to put out the light.
The best of these quintessentially British ornaments were actually made in Germany! The most collectable were made by the German Manufacturer ‘Conta & Boheme,’ Pössneck. They tend to have a solid base rather than hollow, as seen in contemporary competitor’s fairings or later 20th Century reproductions.
The following two images are of a 20th Century reproduction of the iconic Welsh Tea Party fairing, depicting Welsh ladies in traditional National dress. The base is hollow and there is no maker’s mark.
Costa & Boheme developed a mass production method that no other company could match, thereby achieving an advantage over other firms.
The early examples (mid 19th Century to 1890) of Conta & Boheme were impressed with a hallmark (bent arm holding a sword and enclosed in a shield) in conjunction with a 4- digit number. From 1890, the shield mark was often replaced with a printed ‘Made in Germany’ mark and no 4-digit code.