This site provides an exhaustive view of the african-style, black vintage chalkware figurines (like plaster of paris) figurines, ornamental lamps, busts and wall plaques that were produced by a number of designers, predominantly based in London and Manchester in England, in the mid-century time period of the 1950s and 1960s (possibly longer). There are a high percentage of Italian-born designers that immigrated to England and formed companies to design, manufacture and sell these pieces. If you want to know more about what chalkware is, see this page on how it is made.
There are also a lot of mid-century modern pieces made in the United States and I have tried to collect links to other websites that have examples of wall plaques and vintage chalkware figurines from those manufacturers. Some chalkware is still produced today.
This site has the most information on designers of chalkware figurines that were based in the UK. History shows that the pottery industry was mainly based around Staffordshire, but mid-century chalkware seems to focus around East London and Manchester, with a number of key chalkware designers of Italian descent.
Click here for maps showing where the designers were based for either London or Manchester. Note: the sandy coloured flags are the Service Addresses used by the designers. Some of these were running for decades and it is not always clear to see when they stopped trading or what else they decided to do.
Duron – Made In England
My main focus is on a brand name registered as “Duron” with the words MADE IN ENGLAND on a small sticker with gold writing on a black background underneath them. Duron also had a system of internal product numbers. It also covers other key individuals / companies such as Bacci, Nieri, Paoli Bros and Lohnberg before they used the Duron name. The research is mainly limited to UK and Europe, but I am starting to find more brand names and producers in the USA and Australia, and you will find them in the directory.
Over the course of about a decade, 600 figurine and wall plaque designs were registered. The key “players” are shown below.
There is also a huge collection of chalkware wall plaques by Bossons that you can find at Bossons.com that are very collectible.
This site is a collection of data from a number of online sites including Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, the Worthpoint site as well as Ebay (mainly Ireland) PicClick and fellow collectors sending in images. All the physical legwork took place in the National Archives in Kew Gardens, London where the originals of the BT – Records of the Board of Trade are found. A fascinating read with a few hours/days to spare.
To my knowledge there are no original sites or books published that detail the life of these mid-century figurines and wall plaques and the two people that registered the Duron designs, Max Löhnberg and Herbert Hermann Louis Löhnberg.
My wife has been collecting chalkware figurines for over 20 years, starting with a Bossons piece. At last count (November 2021) I think she was up near the 100 mark, predominantly as figurines with only a handful of wall plaques. They’ve travelled quite a few times from Buckingham, Milton Keynes, Geneva and now Valence in France. Each move is a difficult one as the chalkware is pretty delicate stuff.
We keep most of the pieces tucked away safely with only a few on display. And no idea how we get them all insured. It’s not like we have the receipts!!
None of our pieces have been restored, but you can find a few keen amateurs who have done some amazing repairs. Check out the Collectors Corner for more information.
The figurines are becoming increasingly hard to find these days with most of them turning up on Ebay, Pinterest or Etsy. It’s always worth trying a few keywords as most people don’t know what they are selling!
In the last few years (2018-2021), the price of these pieces rose multiple times, but only a few sold, so don’t get too excited if you do decide to sell your figurines and no-one wants it. I don’t know how much these pieces sold for in the 1950s, but I don’t think they would have broken the bank!
My research is not complete, but I hope that people find this figurine site useful and can discover what is in their collection. If you come across other sites that have more research material, do let me know as I would be pleased to give them a link from my site.
Research has slowed down 2019-2021 due to COVID restrictions, so I have not been able to visit the National Archives where all the real detail is. It’s also a place where data is unaffected by “internet interpretation”. There is a lot of mis-information out there, I’m afraid to say and I do try to always maintain 100% accuracy with my research. If you do find something wrong, please do let me know immediately.
There is still quite a lot I don’t know, so if you have any information on my questions below, I would love to here from you!
- Do you have any chalkware figurines or statues that are hollow? Our collection is nearly all solid chalkware
- Does anyone know where any of these figurines were sold? I have only found 1 article in a Scottish newspaper. There MUST be other places where they were sold!
- Where were the pieces actually made? It is possible that they were designed in London/Manchester but then manufactured overseas?
- Is there anyone out there that used to work at any of these places?
- Do you have a figurine where I only have a black and white archive image? It would be great to hear from you as I then know it was produced!
- Most of the pieces were painted matt-black, with only a small percentage painted in a light brown. Does anyone know of other colour schemes used?
- And why did the designers decide on London and Manchester?
Anyway I hope you enjoy the site, sorry for going on and on. If you have any questions, pictures from your own collection, or details on any of the figurines (especially DURONs), please get in touch!