Figure of the month

The New Marriage Act group

courtesy Sheppard's Irish Auction House
April 2020

​I would not normally put up a damaged figure as Figure of the Month but this example of “The New Marriage Act” really caught my eye in the O’Mahoney Collection sale by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House (24th March 2020). In New Marriage Act figure groups, the bride and groom stand before a parson, whilst a young clerk beseeches the heavens for approval of the union. These groups commemorate the passage of The New Marriage Act of 1823, legislation that reinforced marriage.

Prior to 1823, persnickety marriage law made marriage difficult, and also made it quite easy to make a mistake. If a couple failed to comply with all the rules, their marriage was not legal and either party could seek an annulment even many years later. Even if both parties were happy to end their marriage, an annulment had disastrous financial consequences for children who unexpectedly found themselves declared illegitimate. Society expected marriage to last for life, so the New Marriage Act 1823 no longer made it possible to void a marriage for want of a minor mistake in form or fact either before or during the ceremony.  

The reason for my particular attraction to this figure is the fact that the wonderful early blue-tinged glaze is so abundant and visible and this is particularly so on the photograph of the plaque on the figure (left). This example is strikingly similar to that illustrated in Myrna Schkolne’s Staffordshire Figures 1780 to 1840 Volume 4, page 15, figure 139.29.

courtesy Sheppard's Irish Auction House

More Figures of the month

King of Sardinia

November 2022

This is a rare figure of Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Sardinia and later the first King of Italy.  The figure is titled with gold accented raised capitals, stands approximately 12 3/4” tall, and dates to about 1855.  It is probably a Crimean war figure, with Emmanuel being shown in military uniform. 

Bluebeard and Fatima

October 2022

This is a rare figure of Bluebeard and Fatima, approximately 12 1/2” tall, dating to 1858. Bluebeard is easily recognized with his blue beard. He stands upright with a knife in his right hand and left hand on his hip. Fatima is kneeling before Bluebeard with eyes cast upward toward him, hands folded in a prayer-like position.

Napoleon Bonaparte

September 2022

This is a very rare figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, approximately 8 ¼” tall, dating to about 1840.  He stands with arms crossed next to a pedestal with a cloak draped over it.  The base is decorated with an interesting marble effect, and it bears the title “N”. 

Fox and monkey

August 2022

What an interesting figure of a fox and monkey, 4 3/4” tall.  The figure is rare and probably represents one of Aesop’s Fables called “The Fox and the Monkey”. 

It is circa 1840, partially painted in the round, and has a solid base. 

Unidentified man and woman

July 2022

This is an interesting figure of a man and a woman, 7 ½” tall.  It would be unremarkable if not for the head peering out from behind the man’s left leg. 


June 2022

This is a very rare figure of a woman in full length dress and a floral headband, standing 8 ½” tall.  She holds a wand in her right hand and a posy in her left. 


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