Mauchline Ware

23rd November 2020

Mauchline Ware Image

A fabulous private collection of Scottish wooden tourist items in a recent sale at Golding Young Lincoln show not all collectables cost the earth and anyone can form groups of objects at relatively little cost.


Known as Mauchline ware after the area in Ayrshire, roughly 70 miles from Edinburgh where it was developed, these miniature transferred tourist pieces not only frequently turn up for sale, they take up little room and are of good quality and are talking point items.


Usually made from sycamore, the early decoration was transferred on and the later pieces used actual photographic prints which advertised areas, generally in Scotland but elsewhere, basically as tourist pieces with transfers of coastal towns and land marks proving popular as were famous buildings and places associated with Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.


In Lincolnshire typical seaside towns can be found, with Skegness proving particularly popular.


As Mauchlin ware items are popular and plentiful they provide an ideal collecting field.

Forms include sewing accessories and a collection can be made of sewing clamps, pin cushions, needle cases and so on, stamp boxes were also popular as were string and snuff boxes and other pots and vessels. Items such as eye glass cases are more unusual but as the majority of pieces Items were often small and for tourist ware were of good quality, they now take up little room and look good in the modern home.


It was the firm W & A Smith who introduced and developed the pieces  in the 19th century and although works were made in Lanark, the style retains the name of where the Smith firm first developed it, other names associated with the production of this tourist ware were the ribbon manufacturers J & P Coates and Kerr and Medlock to name but two. It is always pleasing to see the labels of the makers, often elaborately and unsubtly labelled to the underside of lids and although these pieces are more unusual, very few items cost huge sums of money.


Other similar items such as Tartanware (the name gives it away) with boxes smothered in various family colours and Tunbridge ware a technique developed in Tunbridge Wells of using tiny sections of wood to produce patterns and designs and all such collectables retain a following today and fall under a similar umbrella as Mauchlin ware as they are small high quality objects.


The fate of Mauchlin ware was sealed going into the 20th century as interest waned and costs rose, but in its heyday huge numbers of varying items were produced, giving collectors a great deal to go at and as pieces can be picked up for under £20 a pleasing and inexpensive collection can be attained very quickly.

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