As related in my first Boehm of Malvern post, the on-site management of Boehm’s British studio changed with the departure of Diane and Terry Lewis in 1979. This second half of my Malvern retrospective covers that studio’s remaining operational years. It appears that the final year of any significant production was 1992. By that time we already find several items whose production was shared between the Trenton and Malvern studios, the latter being in the minority. Some anecdotal sources claim that the studio closed their doors in late 1992 but I have discovered one ornament that is dated 1994 in the design mold.
Before discussing the Malvern pieces from 1980 onward, I’d like to step back a moment to 1979. This was just about the time that the Lewises left and so it was very much a transitional period. It happened that May of that year was the 50th anniversary of the Malvern Festival of music, and the guest of honor at that event was HRH Prince Charles who also took that opporunity to visit the Boehm of Malvern studio. Upon examining a rose sculpture he exclaimed that “Only the fragrance is missing!” According to newspaper accounts the prince spent more than an hour touring the studio. In subsequent years Boehm of Malvern presented sculptures to various members of the royal family and created retail commemoratives as well.
Boehm of Malvern Design Numbers after 1979
As mentioned in my previous post, Boehm design numbers followed a particular pattern according to whether the subject was a limited or non-limited edition. During the Malvern studio’s first decade they were also assigned according to subject: bird, flowers, animals, or people. But during the early 1980s the genre format was eliminated and by the time the 101-xx and 201-xx series were reached we see all the subjects ‘mixed together.’ I have an ongoing Excel file showing all design numbers/titles I have found to date, and will be happy to supply a copy on request. There is a contact form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page.
A rough summary of post-1979 Malvern design numbers shows that the 100 series continued to be for limited editions only but did not extend past 104-99. The 200 through 205 series (as well as 230, 250, and 260) comprise open edition birds, animals, and human figures. The 300 and 301 series are limited edition flowers; this number range may not have gone past 301-99. (All of the 400 series past #4004 are Trenton products.) The 500 and 550 series are limited edition animals from the early 1980s.
The 600 and 700 design numbers are very much a mixed bag. During the 1980s the studio revived the old 600 numbering that was originally used only for the 1970s plaques, and assigned this range to their porcelain-and-bronze pieces; more about those in a future post. All of those have design codes beginning with 6. Some were open editions and others were items marketed via The Hamilton Collection and produced in large editions of 9500 or 9800. Most of these say simply “limited edition” in the backstamp and have no individual sculpture numbers as the classic limited edition pieces do.
The Trenton studio appropriated Malvern’s original 700 series for use on home décor items in later decades.
The 1980s also saw the issuance of non-numeric (letter) design codes. There were at least 10 items with BW design codes; five of those designs were produced at the Malvern studio but some were also made in Trenton. Almost all of the F-numbered flowers were made in Trenton but now and again some will turn up with ‘made in England’ stamps. The Favorite Roses series all start with FR but the production of the flower component was shared between Malvern and Trenton. A few of the SP (“special”) designs were made in England but most came from New Jersey.
At least two Malvern-produced series have no design code/number at all in their backstamps. Both were large-volume flower studies sold through The Hamilton Collection. It’s possible that other Hamilton issues lack visible design numbers as well.
For my overviews of the 1980s-1990s studio I’ll be dividing their output into four separate posts: Animals and fish, birds and flowers, collector plates, and – lastly – people, eggs, and ornaments. Because of the volume of sculptures and items, these will necessarily a small, representative/curated survey only. Sculptures are shown in chronological order.
The Young and Free Fawns from 1980 was a very small issue of only 160 pieces. Dimensions are 12.5” x 13” x 10”. An artist’s proof was presented to Pope John Paul II by the city of Philadelphia during his October 1979 visit to the USA. It’s rather ironic that Helen Boehm would choose to present a piece made by her UK studio instead of her American one! (design #500-14)
The Jaguar is another early-1980s limited edition. From 1981, it is 17.5” long overall but only 9.5” high as he stalks along a limb. Edition size is unknown. (design #500-20)
An artist’s proof/sample of this piece was made in a black colorway; the sculpture number in the backstamp was written as 0. The retention of the spot pattern shows that this colorway was intended to represent the offspring of a normally- spotted and a solid-black parent.
This Bengal Tiger from 1982 is the third study of this magnificent big cat that was issued by the Malvern studio and is design #500-19. The porcelain itself is about 14” high and 19” long and fits into an accompanying wood base that adds another 2” to those dimensions.
Another small limited edition (75)was the Greater Kudu, also from 1982. The fantastic horns bring this sculpture’s height to 21”; it is about 17” wide. (design #500-23)
Closer to home and much smaller in size we have the Badger, an edition of 100 from 1982. (design #500-21)
The White Tailed Buck is fairly often seen for sale on the secondary market. From 1984, he stands 14” high on his accompanying wood base. (design #500-26) This design is entirely different from the similarly named figure produced as an offshore-made import almost 20 years later.
A giraffe family was issued as three separate sculptures in the 1980s. The Giraffe with Young, design #100-55F (female), is about 28.5” tall on its base. The separate male Giraffe is #100-55M is the same height. Sources differ as to the edition size of these pieces, with some citing only 40 of the Giraffe with Young having been made. Some of these are marked “copyright 1989” which is very confusing because the design number is definitely from 1985.
The Young Giraffe, standing 14” high (no base) is definitely from 1989 as its design number (201-23) attests.
The impressive Russian Tur, #100-77, stands 17” high and 12” wide. His backstamp says “To commemorate the Boehm Porcelain Exhibition Moscow U.S.S.R. May 17th – June 27th, 1987” but the size of this edition is unknown.
The Zebra group has dueling marks. The backstamp does not say Made in England but it has the Malvern studio’s horse-and-crown logo and also a Malvern design number (#100-81). The painted signature says Boehm USA. This design number does correspond to a circa-1989 issue range. It’s possible that this may have been a shared production item.
Notice how none of the zebra’s hoofs touch the porcelain base, but instead each zebra is supported only by a single branch element – yikes! This construction must have occasioned a staggering shipping-damage rate and/or a packing nightmare. This study is 13” high and 21” wide. The edition size is unknown but at least 50 were produced.
And like the Giraffe family there is also a separate single Zebra as well. It is 11.5” high and 15.5” wide. The design number and issue year of this one is unknown but likely also 1989. Although it appears from this picture that he has something in his mouth, it is actually the tip of the limb that curves behind his back and to which he is attached.
Some of the 1988-1990 open edition “Friends of the Forest” animals were made at Malvern although most of them were made in Trenton. These were re-issues of earlier retired pieces brought back to benefit the Humane Society of the USA and given new design numbers that begin with HS. The Malvern pieces are marked Made in England in the backstamp.
Relatively few fish studies came from the Malvern studio although the Trenton studio didn’t exactly go overboard [sorry!] with them either.
Tropical Fish with Staghorn Coral was an edition of at least 100 but the edition size is not shown in the backstamp. This is from 1983 and has design #100-44. It is 14.5” tall, 12” wide and 6.5” deep.
The Wimple Fish was an open edition from the late 1980s judging by its design number (201-12). It is about 8.5” high and 5” wide.
The next design number (201-13) was assigned to the Clown Fish which is only 5.25” high.
Although they are mammals I’ve placed the dolphins into this section because of their habitat. Two such studies leapt out of Malvern in 1989. This trio of Dolphins is a limited edition of 300 measuring 6” high and 12” wide; design #100-83. The separate wood base may or may not be original to this piece.
The single Dolphin was an open edition and definitely not with a base. Rising 7.25” high, it was design #201-43.
Rock Beauty and Black and White Damsel is usually found as a Malvern item but some examples are marked Made in U.S.A. It is from 1990 and has design #100-88. A similar study, Copper Band Butterfly with Blue Damsels, came out the same year as design #100-89.
My next post about the Boehm of Malvern studio will look at some of their 1980s-1990s birds and flowers.