Pottery pigs are desirable pieces of Wemyss. They were designed for children's nurseries and some have slots so they could be used as moneyboxes. Others were personalised with a child’s name and birth date. Smaller versions were designed to be paperweights and are rare.
Larger pigs are sought after and the more colourful and well-painted the design, the more valuable the piece. A sleeping pig decorated with shamrocks sold for over £19,000.
Condition is very important: to create the vibrant colours the pottery was fired at a low temperature and this means it is susceptible to cracks and restoration expensive. As a result, pigs in perfect condition command a premium including the Thirties large pig (40.5cm long) pictured and valued at £2,000-£2,500.
Wemyss Ware was started in the 1880s. It was a collaboration of Robert Methven Heron, owner of the Fife Pottery and Karel Nekola, a gifted painter whom he had brought over from Bohemia. It was an immediate success thanks to the patronage of Miss Dora Wemyss of Wemyss Castle (later to become Lady Henry Grosvenor).
The pieces were aimed at wealthy middle and upper classes and forms included plates, biscuit barrels and animal figures including these pigs. They were decorated with images inspired by nature, particularly the famous rose cabbages. Since 1985, 'Wemyss Ware' has been produced by the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd in the Fife village of Ceres.
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