Friday, 14 October 2011

A Dilemma, No Bull

I have been married now for 35 years and it is also my wife's 70th birthday this year. My dilemma is what do you buy the woman who does not collect Machins but has most everything else?

Jewelery? Clothes? Something for the home? Try asking her and the only answer I get is "just surprise me".

Well as it is also my anniversary too I thought as I am not a selfish person I will purchase something just for her that we both can get pleasure from.

In my wisdom I remembered that Arnold Machin designed a piece of pottery for Wedgewood in the form of a bull, so I started surfing the net looking for a guide to prices for such a piece.

Here are some of the results.

'Taurus the Bull', a Wedgwood Queensware figure of a bull modelled by Arnold Machin, transfer-printed in colours with astrological symbols, printed and impressed factory marks -- 15½in. long Christies sold at £88.

3rd September eBay. The stylised bull stands on all four feet with its head lowered and its tail waving against its left hind quarter. The body is scattered with vignettes of the zodiac signs and symbols in pink and brown or yellow and brown with grey backgrounds, interspersed with brown and yellow stars. The details of the bull's head and tail are painted in dark brown enamel, and round each foot is a band with a row of groups of three short strokes above it. Widely-considered to be the first 'Contemporary' style ceramic to be produced in Britain. Sold £195.

8th October . Wedgwood china model of 'Ferdinand the Bull' which was designed by Arnold Machin. He measures 7.125 inches high and 12.5 inches in length and is hand painted with a blue & yellow floral pattern. There is possibly a printed factory mark to the bottom of the front left foot although this is not clear. There are no other factory marks but this is a well known Wedgwood model. A bargain at £85.00.

There were several others that sold from £100 to £295.

Eventually I tracked one down at local Spanish market (fate) in Alicante, the asking price was 110 Euros (approx £100 at today's exchange rate) With a bit of haggling I picked it up for 95 Euros. Not bad eh? On presenting the bull to my wife I said hope you like it, you are now the proud owner of a Machin, please do not start collecting them.

Now for the short story of Ferdinand. I am not sure how true this is, but it fits in nicely from what we know about the young Arnold Machin.

Ferdinand was created for Wedgwood by designer, modeller and conscientious objector Arnold Machin. Ferdinand bears a striking resemblance to a bull in a children's story of the same name - a bull who didn't want to fight in the bullring - but wanted to sit in the field and smell the flowers! 'The Story of Ferdinand' books".

Ferdinand is suitable across the key stages and can be used to explore issues surrounding diversity, citizenship and anti-bullying".

1 comment:

GBStamps said...

Regarding 'Taurus the Bull,' Machin writes in his autobiography that most of the skilled laborers had gone off to fight in the war, and Wedgwood employed untrained women in the factory.

"I designed a bull which could be very simply moulded and then decorated with lithographs, so that all the girls in the factory had to do was attach the decorations before firing. I designed the lithographs of zodiac sympbols myself - a process which I had never done before. When I originally proposed the idea to Josiah Wedgwood, he said, 'I don't understand it Arnold, but you are the artist!' The bulls sold for about 10 pounds each."

Machin adds that the bull was a big success and sold for well over 30 ears. It also gave Wedgwood a great deal of publicity in all the magazines of the time.

He also recounts that in 1959, Labour Chancellor Hugh Gaitskell's wife selected a gold and porphyry version of the bull to present to Mrs. Khrushchev, and Machin later noticed it on Khrushchev's mantel during a television program.