This article is to showcase my not insubstantial collection of Beswick/Royal Albert Figurines in the Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit series. As well as photographs and descriptions of the models I own, I will tell you a little about Beatrix Potter herself and how she came to write the Peter Rabbit series, and her rapid rise to fame. I will also tell you a little about the Beswick factory, the designers and the important significance of Backstamps.
My lifelong affection for Beatrix Potter figurines began when I was given a Beswick figurine, Jeremy Fisher for my birthday sixty years ago. Appealing, loveable but faintly repellant, he travelled the world with me, a significant reminder of my childhood. He lasted until I had children of my own and eventually, after losing one hand, which was reverently glued back somewhat amateurishly, he broke and was regretfully consigned to the dustbin.
Over the years I have gathered quite a large collection of Beswick figurines, which I am now planning to sell, although I will keep one or two of my favourites.
Image above: Beswick Beatrix Potter Series –
Mr Jeremy Fisher
Photograph Acknowledgement: Denhams.com
Who was Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) ? A history of Beatrix Potter and the Peter Rabbit books she wrote and illustrated herself:
Born into a wealthy upper middle class Victorian family who had inherited money from the cotton trade, her father, a barrister, was keen on art and photography and her parents mixed socially with writers, artists and politicians. They were too busy to spend much time with Beatrix and she was educated at home by a governess. Her younger brother Bertram was a close companion, but as he attended boarding school, she was quite a lonely child. Her father encouraged her artistic talent and she and her brother spent much time observing and sketching the numerous pets in their household and a variety of wildlife. Beatrix Potter’s pets were often subjects for sketches and paintings, later inspiring the much-loved characters in her books.
In her 20’s, Beatrix Potter became a keen naturalist, studying and drawing plants and animals at museums, studying them under the microscope and writing about them; she was a gifted natural scientist and botanical illustrator and presented a botanical paper on Funghi to the Linnean Society. Later she became a farmer, sheep-breeder and conservationist.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit grew from some of her letters to the children of her former governess which she had illustrated seven years previously in 1893. After six rejections from publishers, she decided to publish the book herself in 1901 and on the strength of it was then taken on by the publisher Frederick Warne.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1902 with an initial 8000 copies printed and the tale has never been out of print since. Beatrix Potter went on to publish another 22 little books over the next 28 years. Her editor, Norman Warne, fell in love and proposed to her but, sadly, he died in 1905 before they could marry. Her books were very successful and the income enabled her to buy farming land in the Lake District. Tthere she met a local solicitor, William Heelis, who became her husband in 1913. As well as sheep farming, she developed a keen interest in conservation after becoming friendly with a founder member of the National Trust, and in her will she left the Trust 14 farms and over 4,000 acres .
Beatrix Potter is still one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved children’s authors. She wrote and illustrated a total of 28 books, including the 23 Tales which have been translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100 million copies.
Picture: Beatrix Potter, ‘Original illustration for The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, © Frederick Warne & Co. 2006
The First Beatrix Potter Book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was Very Popular Encouraging her to write and illustrate 23 Peter Rabbit books and other tales, listed below chronologically:·
..1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit
· 1903 The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
· 1903 The Tailor of Gloucester
· 1904 The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
· 1904 The Tale of Two Bad Mice
· 1905 The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
· 1905 The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan
· 1906 The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
· 1906 The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit
· 1906 The Story of Miss Moppet
· 1907 The Tale of Tom Kitten
· 1908 The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
· 1908 The Tale of Samuel Whisker, or
. The Roly-Poly Pudding
· 1909 The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
· 1909 The Tale of Ginger and Pickles
· 1910 The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
· 1911 The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes
· 1912 The Tale of Mr. Todd
· 1913 The Tale of Pigling Bland
· 1917 Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes
· 1918 The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse
· 1922 Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes1930 The Tale of Little Pig Robinson
Below I am Featuring my Beswick Beatrix Potter Figurines:
Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock BP 3a:
Handle Hidden, Small Eye Patch – Very Rare Second Version
The figurine on the above left is the standard Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock BP 3a (Ca. 1970-ca.1974) (showing the spade handle and small eye patches). The figurine on the right is the very rare and valuable Beswick Beatrix Potter Tommy Brock in the second version, second variation (spade – handle hidden and small eye patches) – it has a rare BP 3a backstamp, only produced for one year, about 1974,
Measuring 3.5″, 8.9cm high, it was designed by Graham Orwell and has a blue-grey jacket, pink waistcoat and yellow trousers.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Mr Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit BP 3c
Mr Benjamin Bunny is seen here smacking Peter Rabbit’s bottom – that wouldn’t do at all these days, would it? He could be sued for assault!
Modeller: Alan Maslankowski, height 4″, 10.1 cm. Issued 1975 – 1995
Beswick Beatrix Potter – Susan 1983
Believed to be Model BP3b
Modeller David Lyttleton
Very rare back stamp “Frederick Warner plc 1983” (as opposed to Frederick Warne & Co), not even mentioned in Beswick’s Collectables, although I have seen it elsewhere on the internet.
A rare backstamp would increase the value considerably.
Beswick Beatrix Potter – Mr Tod BP6a – a very foxy fox
Modeller: Ted Chawner
Height 4.75″. 12/1 cm., issued l988 – 1993
Beswick Beatrix Potter – Appley Dapply BP2a – First Version “Bottle Out”
This is the valuable more sought-after version, with the bottle sticking out of the basket (see below)
Issued 1971 – 1975
Modeller: Albert Hallam
Beswick Beatrix Potter Foxy Whiskered Gentleman, BP-2A – First Version, First Variation, Designed by Arthur Gredington
Foxy Whiskered Gentleman was issued between 1954 – 2002.
The backstamp on the figurine in the photograph indicates that it was actually issued between 1955-1975, so it is a very early version – In this particular version, Foxy Whiskered Gentleman is wearing a pale green jacket and trousers, and a pink waistcoat.
Height 4.75″, 12.1 cm.
Sadly, he has a chipped ear, waistcoat and backstamp.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Mr Benjamin Bunny BP 2 Gold – Pipe Out and Dark Maroon Jacket
Modeller: Arthur Gredington, height 4.25″ 10.8 cm.,
Mr Benjamin Bunny shown here is the earlier version issued between 1965 and 1974,which has his pipe out. There is an extremely rare earlier version with Mr Benjamin Bunny wearing a lilac jacket as opposed to the maroon jacket.
In the later versions, issued between 1970 and 2002, his pipe is in. There are numerous different backstamps, and the later issues are, on the whole, a lot less valuable.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Pig-Wig BP 3b – Black Pig with Blue Dress
Modeller: Albert Hallam, Height 4″, 1972-82
There were two colour variations for Pig-Wig, Version 1 is extremely rare, so rare in fact that the standard reference book, “Beswick Collectables”, does not even list the price – Pig-Wig is a grey pig in a pale blue dress.
In version 2, the one shown here, she is a black pig in a deep blue dress.
Beswick Beatrix Potter Sir Isaac Newton BP3b
Sir Isaac Newton is my favourite Beatrix Potter Figurine – don’t ask me why, I just love him!
Issued 1955 – 1972, Height: 3.75″, 9.5 cm.
Modeller: Graham Tongue
This is one of the only figures with a backstamp using the words “Made in England” as opposed to the usual “England”
The colour and size of Sir Isaac Newton figurines may vary. He wears a pale green jacket and a yellow waistcoat with tan markings.
Beswick Beatrix Potter – Benjamin Wakes up
Benjamin Wakes Up BP 6a
Modeller: Amanda Hughes-Lubeck
Height: 2.25″, 5.7 cm., issued 1991 – 1997
Benjamin Wakes Up is not a very valuable figurine, but he’s quite cute.
Beswick, Royal Albert and Royal Doulton Backstamps on Figurines
Back stamps are used by manufacturers to identify their work and are generally found on the underside of the figurine. They normally include the name of the manufacturer and, in the case of Beswick, there were many variations which could be used to deduce the model and date of issue. Some people collect rare backstamps, rather than the figurines they identify, and backstamps can considerably increase the value of an item if they are very rare.
The following information will assist you when you are building your collection of Beswick, Royal Albert and Royal Doulton Beatrix Potter figurines:
There were 25 different backstamp variations used in total:
BP1a Beswick Gold Circle (Beswick England written in a Circle Issued 1948-1954)
BP1b Beswick Gold Parallel Lines (Beswick England written in parallel lines used on a very limited amount of figures Issued 1949-1954)
BP2 Beswick Gold Oval (Beswick England written in an Oval shape Issued 1955-1972)
BP2b Beswick Transitional (Part Gold Script backstamp as on the BP2 and part BP3b backstamp Issued 1971-1972)
BP3a Beswick (Brown writing with no date stamp Issued 1973-1974)
BP3b Beswick (Brown writing Potter’s with an “s” and the copyright date Issued 1974-1985)
BP3c Beswick (Brown writing Potter with no ‘s with the added Licensed By Copyrights and the copyright date Issued 1985-1988)
BP4 Beswick Doulton (Similar to the BP3c stamp but with the John Beswick Signature and the added Studio of Royal Doulton Issued 1988-1989)
BP5 Royal Albert Gold Crown (Gold stamp to mark the changeover to the Royal Albert Label, only used on six Character Figurines Issued 1989)
BP6a Royal Albert Small Crown (Brown stamp used on the smaller figures Issued 1989-1998)
BP6b Royal Albert Large Crown (Brown stamp used on the larger size figures Issued 1993-1998)
BP7 Beswick Doulton (100 in an Oval shape with the writing Peter Rabbit 1893-1993 F.Warne & Co used to mark the 100th Anniversary of Peter Rabbit Issued 1993)
BP8a Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware found on only two figures Jemima & Her Ducklings and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle Washing Issued 1998)
BP8b Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware marked 1947-1997 used to mark the 50th year of production of Beswick Beatrix Potter figurines Issued 1997)
BP8c Beswick Doulton (Brown Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figurines with the added Limited Edition numbers only used on three Tableaus Issued 1998-2000)
BP9a Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware marked with Beswick Centenary 1894-1994 marking the 100th Anniversary of the Beswick company only used on Jemima Puddle-Duck Issued 1994)
BP9b Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on six figurines painted with Gold Highlights Issued 1997-1998)
BP9c Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figures with the added Limited Edition numbers Issued 1997-2000)
BP9d Beswick Doulton (Gold Script Beswick Ware used on Limited Edition figures with the addition of the Peter Rabbit and Friends logo Issued 1997-2000)
BP10a Beswick Doulton (Beswick “B” Black Crest stamp Issued 1998-2002)
BP10b Beswick Doulton (Black stamp Beswick written arched over Made In England Issued 1998-2002)
BP10c Beswick Doulton (A variation of BP10b but all writing is curved around the figures circular base Issued 1998-2002)
BP10d Beswick Doulton (Beswick “B” Gold Crest Special Gold Edition with the Peter Rabbit and Friends logo only used on Sweet Peter Rabbit Issued 1999)
BP11a Beswick Doulton (Circular stamp with the John Beswick Signature and the “P” reference number of the figure produced on nine Gloss Finish figures and six Satin Glaze Finish figures Issued 2001-2002)
BP11b Beswick Doulton (Circular stamp same as BP11a but on marked Limited Edition figures Issued 2001-2002)
List Provided by Courtesy of Londons Collectable Treasures
If you would like more detail about Beatrix Potter and her books and art, Victoria & Albert Museum – Feature about Beatrix Potter and her Art and Books is a website worth visiting. The V&A is one of London’s best-loved museums and this is what they say:
“Although she died in 1943, Beatrix Potter is still one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved children’s authors. Potter wrote and illustrated a total of 28 books, including the 23 Tales, the ‘little books’ that have been translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100million copies.
The V&A holds the world’s largest collection of Potter’s drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials, and hosts a changing display on particular aspects of her work in the Beatrix Potter Showcase….”