Figurines & History

Whisper Wade "Whimsies" into many people's ears and it will mean only one thing...small animal figurines from the George Wade Pottery of Burslem, England.

Wade began in 1810 in Burslem, England, with a small workshop and a single pottery oven making mostly bottles and pottery items. He soon turned his attention to the more profitable ceramics needs of textile mills, which supported the company into the late 1920s. As well as industrial ceramics, Wade produced a line of beautiful figurines, many Art Deco. These were so popular that animal figures were added. The line ran into a snag when it was found that the Cellulose finish turned yellow and peeled off with age. In the late 1930s some models were reissued with a high gloss underglaze finish.

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 led to the cessation of all non-essential ceramic items. Domestic ceramic production was limited to plain, undecorated dinnerware and teapots.

The many faces of Wade Whimsies are cats, birds, sea life, snow animals, pets, wildlife, farm animals, dinosaurs, nursery rhyme figures, circus figures, miniature houses, leprechauns, monks and dog figurines.

Intended for children, they also appeal to adults who have not lost their sense of imagination. Rumor has it that these figurines were often used in English pubs for striking matches to light pipes.  Also for use in kitchens, these "strikers" were used to light the match to heat the stove.  That is why the base of each is graded; for striking a match against. 
The Wade figurines have become Wade collectors' items and are very much in demand. Today, Wade figurines are still offered as a premium with the purchase of select Red Rose boxes..

Many Whimsies, often those apparently in the same range, are different from each other. This is due to the length of time they were made and the volume of output. Molds became worn and were retooled for fresh use. Nearly all Red Rose Figurines, with the exception of the very first, have one significant feature: fine moulded parallel ridges on the underside of the base. It now seems to have become a "trademark" for all Wade "Whimsies" to follow, making them remarkable Red Rose collectibles.

View a selection of figurines:


This figurine is "Jack" and is #1 in the large "Nursery Favourites" series by Wade of England, introduced in the 1970's.
Queen of Hearts

This figurine is "The Queen of Hearts" and is #14 in the large "Nursery Favourites" series by Wade of England, introduced in the 1970's.
Old King Cole

This figurine is "Old King Cole" and is #9 in the large "Nursery Favourites" series by Wade of England, introduced in in the 1970's

The Flintstones is a trademark of Hanna-Barbara.

Red Rose Figurine Series

Since 1967, a special relationship has existed between Red Rose teas and Wade. Starting with the Canadian market from 1967 to 1983, Wade manufactured special and unique figurine series to be offered as a premium to tea aficionados. Customers could obtain the figurines when purchasing specially marked packages of Red Rose Teas. From 1983 onwards, the relationship between the two companies continues when special series were made available to US tea lovers.

To-date, five series have been manufactured:

  1. U.S. Animal Series #1 (15 pieces), 1983-1985

  2. U.S. Animal Series #2 (20 pieces), 1985-1996

  3. Circus Figurine Series (15 pieces), 1994-1999

  4. Endangered North America Animal Series (10 pieces) 1999-2002

  5. Noah's Ark Animal Series (15 pieces) 2002-2006

  6. Pet Shop Friends Series (10 Pieces) 2005-2008                                                

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