Compared to the quantity of known (to me) open-edition floral studies, the same category when it comes to the birds is much smaller: To date, I have found only twenty, and six of those are part of a single retailer-exclusive series sold only at Neiman-Marcus stores in the USA. There may, of course, be a flock of others just waiting to be discovered!
These are listed alphabetically by sculpture name because not all of the non-limited edition backstamps include the issue year.
This is the American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, at just a bit under 8” high. The species name (tristis means ‘sad’) has always puzzled me because I’ve never thought of the goldfinch’s song, behavior or flight pattern as being anything but sprightly!
In 1988 the American Robin with Oak was introduced. He is 5.25” high and about 7” wide. The second photo also shows a female colorway in the foreground but I do not know whether both versions were offered at the same time, or whether the female was merely a test/sample piece.
There were two Bulmer’s Cider Woodpecker sculptures created for that company by Connoisseur as promotional items. Chris Ashenden was the designer. This non-limited one is a small piece at only 4” high and 7 long from beak to tail. The other bird is different, larger in size, and was an edition of only 15 pieces that can be seen in the Limited-Edition Birds post.
Introduced in 1988, this male Cardinal shows off his colorful plumage. He is 7” high.
The Chickadee with Holly was a 1988 non-limited edition standing 8″ high. In some backstamps, the title is written instead as Black Capped Chickadee. Connoisseur produced three other chickadee studies, including one in the Fledglings of North America series (shown below) and a limited-edition family group; both of those were Neiman-Marcus store exclusives but this design was not.
The third known British/European robin by Connoisseur is the Christmas Robin, an open edition 6″ high. The others were both limited editions: Gardener’s Friend and Robin in Springtime.
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is 6.5″ high. This is a male; it’s not known whether a female colorway was also produced, as was done with the American Robin which was also part of this series, as was the brilliant red Cardinal.
The existence of two Connoisseur “fledgling” series can be confusing, but they are easy to distinguish.
This sculpture, the Fledgling Blue Tit, is only three inches high. It was a 1981 open edition that was part of a group of four fledgling bird studies (Blue Tit, Robin, Sparrow and Wren) issued in 1981 and 1982. This youngster has quite the attitude and was designed long before the advent of ‘Angry Birds.’
This is the Fledgling Robin from that same range, although this was issued in 1982. It measures 3.5” tall and 5” wide.
The Fledgling Sparrow, about 4″ high, is from 1983 and similar to his other fledgling friends. I have seen this occasionally mis-identified for sale online as the Fledgling Robin; the heavy beak should instantly identify it as a sparrow or at least a member of the finch family!
The Fledgling Wren was also part of this range. Issue year is not known.
The other “fledglings” series was the Fledglings of North America, a range created exclusively for sale at the Neiman-Marcus stores in the USA. All six designs were modelled by Christopher Ashenden and have a special backstamp identifying them as part of this collection. Three of the birds appeared in a 1984 Neiman-Marcus catalog, with this caption:
Decorated and detailed by hand, expertly sculptured bone porcelain fledglings imported from England. The trio of North American bird sculptures (not shown actual size) are part of a Neiman-Marcus exclusive series designed by Chris Ashenden for Connoisseur of Malvern.
The reference to these three being part of a series suggests that either all of them were released concurrently, or perhaps these three were a second group. It’s possible that 1984 was the release date for all of them.
Fledglings of North America Blue Jay, 4.75” high. An unusual aspect of this series is that the backstamps also include a design number; the Blue Jay’s is 032. This is not an individual sculpture number, because this was an open (non-limited, un-numbered) series.
The Fledglings of North America Cardinal is approximately 5″ high and design #033.
Fledglings of North America Chickadee, 4.5” high, with design number 036.
Fledglings of North America Mockingbird, about 5” high. Its design number is 034.
Fledglings of North America Robin is design number 035. Although at first glance the spotted throat may make it appear to be the Mockingbird fledgling, this is a different piece.
Fledglings of North America Tufted Titmouse, about 5” high; design number 037.
The Neiman-Marcus exclusives were also sold in boxes specially printed with both the Connoisseur and the store name logos. It’s unusual to find a surviving original Connoisseur of Malvern store-exclusive box. The boxes are 8″x7″x 4″ high and were specially designed for this series: Rather than having a lid, the inner box slides out to reveal the bird securely wrapped in thick, soft egg-crate style foam. Quite ingenious, actually!
This 1988 study is of a Golden Crowned Kinglet, Regulus satrapa, which is a tiny bird – scarcely bigger than a hummingbird – that breeds in Canada and winters in most of the USA. The Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) are their British relatives of similar size and breeding habitat which is coniferous forests.
The Redpoll (Acanthis flammea) is a winter migrant into the northern half of the USA from its spring-autumn ranges in Canada. This 7″ high open edition from 1988 has a limited-edition counterpart, Redpolls with Apple Blossom.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is found in the eastern half of the USA during the summer months. Connoisseur portrayed this amazing little bird in both an open and a limited edition. The open edition is titled simply Ruby Throated Hummingbird and is 7″ high. It is shown with a single bloom of honeysuckle. Its limited-edition counterpart is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird with Trumpet Vine.
My next Connoisseur overview will look at their felines, both wild and domestic.
Name index of Connoisseur of Malvern sculptures
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