Learn more about Francesca
  and other Character Head thimbles  
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Francesca ... introduction


  Other character heads  

This section is included for completeness. There seem to be far more of these brands around today on the second hand market. The fact that many of the characters are identical to those made by Francesca is interesting. Were they trying to cash in on the popularity of thimble collecting during the 1980s?
It is very concerning to me how many new "brands" are appearing for sale on eBay! Did Francesca and Sutherland [in approximately 2002] leave so many unpainted and unmarked thimbles when they closed, that "new" manufacturers are placing their own brand names into these thimbles and maybe they are being handpainted today??!!
Buyer Beware!!
Maybe buy handpainted thimbles and not the white versions, so that you have the joy of the handpainting?? - and a backstamp is vital

OTHER BRANDS - ACORN | ARTONE | COUNTRY LIFE DESIGN CENTRE | CROFT CHINA | HARLEQUIN DESIGN STUDIO | HARMER SCULPTURES | HEALACRAFT | JOHNSON | PERENNIS | RENAISSANCE | STAFFORDSHIRE FINE CERAMICS | SUTHERLAND CHINA | THEODORE PAUL | THIMBLE COLLECTORS SOCIETY | TONY WOOD STUDIO | UNITED ARTISTS | VICTORIA CHINA | WOOD POTTERS


  Acorn  
England
this is the same shape of the Francesca and Artone eagle head thimbles

Acorn backstamp


Eagle


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  Artone Pottery  
Made in Burslem, England

the backstamp is derived from an artist's palette with the words 'Hand painted Artone - England' across it
the characters aren't always named, so we have to go on the accuracy of the likeness for identification! Have I got them right?

  Artone  
The arts


The Beadle
from "Oliver Twist"

Clarke Gable

Elvis Presley

Howard Hughes

Humphrey Bogart
+ experimental colour version

John Wayne
+ colour versions

Mae West

Marilyn Monroe

Sherlock Holmes with pipe
+ colour version

Sherlock Holmes with magnifying glass

  Artone  
US

Eagle

Eisenhower

Lincoln

Ronald Reagan
+ minimally painted & unpainted versions

Washington

  Artone  
Clowns

Happy Harry
+ colour versions

Sad Sam
+ colour versions

Smiley Stan
+ colour version

  Artone  
Artone mini Toby Jugs

some of the Artone set of mini Toby Jugs - often called thimbles but they are not
Artful Dodger - The Beadle - Fagin - Gypsy - Mr Pickwick - Tony Weller


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  Country Life Design Studio  
England

Country Life backstamps and label

the shape seems identical to the Victoria China dogs and cats thimbles??!!
the handpainting is very fine!
do you know of any other dog or cat shapes, by this "maker"?
are you a dog connoisseur? Do you know the unknown breeds, please?
they are not marked with the name of breed inside


Alsatian/German Shepherd

Black Alsatian/German Shepherd

Great Dane

King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

Siamese cat


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  Croft China  
England
Fine bone china

Croft backstamp
the thimbles are not named inside


Beefeater/Yeoman of the Guard

Grenadier Guard

Policeman


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  Harlequin Design Studio  

According to information in March 2013 from Gordon A Henry, the thimble maker of HDS ... "I registered the company in the mid seventies, where I exported the range to Australia and New Zealand as well as supplying the U.K. As I only used three decorators the items were never massed produced (this allowed for excellent quality control) and resulted in a high standard of decoration. I think that my thimbles may be unique, as I was involved from start to finish in the production ... from the design / modelling stage, mould making, slip casting / fettling and sponging, bisque firing, glazing and finally - the decoration. I also designed (modelled) other sculptures (including birds, animals and figurines) from start to finish. As Harlequin was only ever a part-time business (as I was also working as a ceramic artist for Royal Doulton), I wound up the company around the mid to late nineties."
I used a single ‘back stamp’ (lithograph) using the name ‘Harlequin’ on the thimble itself and the other information was supplied on the display box … character name, company etc. To start with I used a green display box, later changing to a clear plastic box that displayed the items in a slightly better light. "

further information about Gordon A Henry


Harlequin backstamp

GA Henry 86 signature

Gordon Henry


Harlequin thimbles in green Schmid boxes


Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora Macdonald

Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton

Prince Charles and Lady Diana
handpainted by PHH
+ colour versions for Prince Charles

Robin Hood and Maid Marian

Romeo and Juliet
+ very different verso for this Juliet with flowers in her hair

Captain Henry Morgan
pirate
prototype made?

Friar Tuck

John Wesley
originally named The Pilgrim

Santa Claus


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  Harmer Sculptures  

Harmer backstamp
these thimbles were only produced in the 1980s, as Harmer died in the 1980s

  Alice in Wonderland series  
this set is made in Staffordshire, England and are of bone china
they tend to be quite tall, with the Carpenter being 45mm
the chief characters seem to be covered with this set of 12


Alice

Carpenter

Caterpillar

Cheshire Cat

Dormouse

Hands of Cards

King of Hearts

Mad Hatter

March Hare

Queen of Hearts

Walrus

White Rabbit


  Harmer Sculptures  
Dickens Characters
handpainted

being handpainted there are colour variations

named on verso


Artful Dodger
[--Oliver Twist--]

Bill Sykes
[--Oliver Twist--]

Brother Cheeryble
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]

David Copperfield
[--David Copperfield--]

Fagin
[--Oliver Twist--]
marked "Fagan" on box

Marley's Ghost
[--A Christmas Carol--]

Miss Haversham
[--Great Expectations--]

Mr Bumble
[--Oliver Twist--]

Mr Micawber
[--David Copperfield--]

Mr Pickwick
[--The Pickwick Papers--]

Oliver Twist
[--Oliver Twist--]

Scrooge
[--A Christmas Carol--]


  Harmer Sculptures  
Flowers
I first saw these advertised for sale in January 1985
thru The Thimble Collectors' Guild in Scotland


Bluebell

Crocus

Daffodil

Foxglove

Snowdrop

Tulip


  Harmer Sculptures  
Clowns
like the Francesca thimbles - where the Dickens character moulds were "re-used" and painted as clowns - so Harmer followed and these clowns resemble some of the Harmer Dickensian character thimbles - can you match them?
the makeovers could be L to R - Mr Pickwick | Scrooge | Marley's Ghost | Bill Sykes | Brother Cheeryble
I understand that these thimbles are not marked with the maker's name, nor do they have names


  Harmer Sculptures  
others
named on the back of the head


Benjamin Franklin

Dr Watson

Frank Sinatra

Hound Dog
no backstamp

The Lion

Miner
+ unpainted version

Mrs Santa

Ronald Reagan
this is the matt version

Santa

Sherlock Holmes


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Healacraft
  Robin Hood series  
English made and bone china

set of 6 character thimbles
tho the characters are not named as such in the thimbles, there are initials that match each character
SN would be for the Sheriff of Nottingham and LJ for Little John etc


Healacraft backstamps
W S lettered in brown on the rim indicates the name character name = Will Scarlet
the hand painter's name is lettered in brown alongside N Higgins on this entire set

    a. Friar Tuck b. Little John c. Robin Hood d. Maid Marian e. Sheriff of Nottingham f. Will Scarlet

Friar Tuck

Little John

Maid Marian

Robin Hood

Sheriff of Nottingham

Will Scarlet

  Others  
handpainted by N Higgins

Emily Bronte

unknown character


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Johnson Ceramics
English made and china
character named on the back of the head
these seem to be copies of the Harmer thimbles
the 12 characters are the same


Johnson backstamp

Johnson character verso

Johnson box


Artful Dodger
[--Oliver Twist--]

Bill Sykes
[--Oliver Twist--]

Brother Cheeryble
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]

David Copperfield
[--David Copperfield--]

Fagin
[--Oliver Twist--]

Marley's Ghost
[--A Christmas Carol--]

Miss Haversham
[--Great Expectations--]

Mr Bumble
[--Oliver Twist--]

Mr Micawber
[--David Copperfield--]

Mr Pickwick
[--The Pickwick Papers--]

Oliver Twist
[--Oliver Twist--]

Scrooge
[--A Christmas Carol--]

Snowdrop


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Perennis
  The Charles Dickens Character Thimbles  

these Dickens characters were all produced with © 1983 stamped inside and are made in Staffordshire England
these thimbles are hand sculptured and painted, each in individual box with reference card about the character, plus a wall mount wooden display box with 30 recesses
are these Dickens characters the only character head thimbles made by Perennis?
there are the same number of Perennis Dickens characters as Francesca [30]: but there aren't many overlapping characters!
the Perennis thimble boxes do not have their maker's name on, just "Crafted in Staffordshire England", where they were made - with the name of the set above
this has led to much confusion of the years, where Perennis thimbles have been described as made by Staffordshire with the name in very small lettering, which is often overlooked
some confusion is also occurring as Perennis released some Dickens character thimbles with the incorrect name inside
examples are given as a link
poor quality control??!!
there are examples appearing in monochrome - a pale gingery colour - see these by clicking on the link.
being handpainted thimbles, there are always differences in thimbles from those illustrated: there are many different painters of the characters - I have recorded them when the colours are markedly different - as colourways - some are excellent - others rather ordinary or crude that don't really represent the Dickens character - and it's just not thimbles by different photographers - it will be worth your while to source the former!! How many painters did Perennis employ? Are they still out there painting up the blank thimbles left from a long time ago?
Perennis seem to have more naming errors of the characters than any other manufacturer of this type of thimble!

Early in 2013 I have had access to the original advertisement in Australia for this set of thimbles. They were advertised for sale in Melbourne's The Age of March 28th 1983.
They were available for purchase as a set of 30 by direct subscription, for delivery at one per month. The sets were available only thru Buckingham Fine Arts, with a Melbourne address.
According to the advertisement, "many thimbles offered to collectors are merely flat-sided and printed with decoration. However these are sculptured portraits which capture the full details of Dickens' characters"
for the first time we know who the thimble designer was - Arthur Wakelin, a British artist
there is no mention of Perennis - the thimble maker - anywhere in the advertisement

This early date of 1983 makes these thimbles by Perennis almost contemporaneous with the Francesca thimbles


thimble in box with certificate
 
Perennis backstamp

thimble in box with certificate


Artful Dodger
[--Oliver Twist--]
+ colourway version

Bill Sykes
[--Oliver Twist--]
+ monochrome & incorrectly named as this is Fagin & bushy beard versions

Bob Cratchit
[--a Christmas Carol--]

Captain Cuttle
[--Dombey and Son--]
+ colourway version

Daniel Quilp
[--The Old Curiosity Shop--]

David Copperfield
[--David Copperfield--]
+ colourway version

Ebenezer Scrooge
[--A Christmas Carol--]

Fagin
[--Oliver Twist--]
+ another version

Fanny Squeers
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]
+ another version

Inspector Bucket
[--Bleak House--]
+ colourway version

Little Nell
[--The Old Curiosity Shop--]

Madame Defarge
[--A Tale of Two Cities--]
+ another version

Madame Mantalini
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]
& trial colours version

Marley's Ghost
[--A Christmas Carol--]
sad & angry faces

Miss Haversham
[--Great Expectations--]

Mr Bumble
[--Oliver Twist--]

Mr Micawber
[--David Copperfield--]

Mrs Bardell
[--The Pickwick Papers--]
+ colourway & attempted rename Mrs Bardell & attempted rename Mrs Bardell backstamp versions

Newman Noggs
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]
+ incorrectly named Moggs & colourway versions

Oliver Twist
[--Oliver Twist--]

Pip
[--Great Expectations--]
+ another version

Sairey Gamp
[--Martin Chuzzlewit--]

Sally Brass
[--The Curiosity Shop--]
colourway version

Samuel Pickwick
[--The Pickwick Papers--]

Samuel Weller
[--The Pickwick Papers--]
+ another version

Silas Wegg
[--Our Mutual Friend--]

Sydney Carton
[--A Tale of Two Cities--]
+ wrongly named Mrs Bardelloni as it's Sydney Carton

Tiny Tim
[--A Christmas Carol--]
+ monochrome & another version

Uriah Heep
[--David Copperfield--]
+ colourway & another version

Wackford Squeers
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]
incorrectly named version as this is Newman Noggs


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  Renaissance  
England - fine bone china

these thimbles each have a small china plinth
showing the character's name with dates on verso
they are also lettered with the name & dates inside the thimbles


Bach
1685-1750

Beethoven
1770-1827
+ unpainted version

Brahms 1833-1897

Chopin
1810-1849

Grieg
1843-1907

Mozart
1756-1791

Schubert
1797-1828

Tchaikovsky
1840-1893
+ unpainted version


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  Royal Worcester  
England
they are not thimbles at all and only included as a buyer beware
these were offered for sale as thimbles on eBay
they are candle snuffers
this pair is part of a set of 14


Mr Caudle

Mrs Caudle


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  Staffordshire Fine Ceramics  
The Charles Dickens Collection
a few of these moulds are the same as those from Francesca and Perennis - using the same thimble boxes as those for Perennis?
until I recalled the Staffordshire backstamp in the Scrooge thimble, I was going to delete this section as I thought most of the thimbles were made by Perennis
however, they will remain here and no more will be added until I have verified their Staffordshire backstamps. Those marked with ** have had the backstamp authenticated as a Staffordshire Fine Ceramics character thimble
a small proportion of these thimbles are different from Perennis, and a few are similar to Francesca Dickens characters
if you own any of these character heads by Staffordshire, with the maker's mark as below, please contact me, so that this set can be amended/completed


**Charles Dickens

Scrooge character Staffordshire backstamp


**Bill Sykes
[--Oliver Twist--]

**Bux Fux
[--The Pickwick Papers--]

David Copperfield
[--David Copperfield--]

**Ebenezer Scrooge
[--A Christmas Carol--]

**Fagin
[--Oliver Twist--]

Inspector Bucket
[--Bleak House--]

Little Nell
[--The Old Curiosity Shop--]

**Madame Defarge
[--A Tale of Two Cities<--]

**Mr Bumble
[--Oliver Twist--]

**Mr Pickwick
[--The Pickwick Papers--]

Oliver Twist
[--Oliver Twist--]

**Pecksniff
[--Martin Chuzzlewit--]

**Sairey Gamp
[--Martin Chuzzlewit--]

**Tony Weller
[--The Pickwick Papers--]


  Staffordshire Fine Ceramics  
Other Characters
these characters match those by Francesca, not Perennis


Pope John Paul II

Queen Elizabeth I

William Shakespeare

Winston Churchill


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  Sutherland China  
English china
Sutherland China are well-known thimble makers
this set would be a small part of their production as they are mainly known for their thimble-shaped production
there are characters duplicated from the Francesca series. When Francesca closed in the late 1980s, Sutherland purchased their moulds
using the following and destroying the rest!
at last count, there are 59 Sutherland heads, as against 116 from Francesca, tho there are 5 Sutherlands, not featured by Francesca
as I understand it, the Sutherland character thimbles are unsigned, unlike the Francesca ones? Is this correct?
there are an increasing number of glazed white character heads appearing from Sutherland. Are these seconds or just unpainted stock that is surfacing onto the market? Once Sutherland closed their doors in around 2002, what happened to their unpainted thimble head thimbles stock?
most of these unpainted Sutherland thimbles are all backstamped with their maker's mark with the character name inside - maybe this is how Sutherland wanted to sell them - for collectors who preferred the glazed look, without the handpainted detail??!!

I have alphabetised all the Sutherland characters in one sequence, rather than using the order of the Francesca range. I don't believe that Sutherland ever issued or marketed them in sets, as Francesca did, so it would make a mockery if I categorised them??!!


Sutherland character thimble backstamps

it would seem that they never created new character heads of their own! How wrong could I be?
there is a new set that no other manufacturer has had before - the current Royal Family - some are painted


Abraham Lincoln
+ unpainted version

Albert
prototype

American bald eagle

Anne Boleyn

Anne Hathaway
+ unpainted version

Anne of Cleves

Artful Dodger
[--Oliver Twist--]

Bach

Beethoven

Catherine of Aragon

Charles II

Cleopatra

David Copperfield
[--David Copperfield--]

Desdemona

Dr Watson

Elizabeth I

George Washington
+ unpainted with hat version

George Washington
without hat version

Good King Wenceslas

Henry VIII

Huck Finn

Jane Seymour

Josephine
+ unpainted version

Juliet
+ unpainted version

Katherine Parr

Lady Macbeth

Macbeth

Mark Antony

Mark Twain
+ verso lettered Hannibal, Mo

Mary Queen of Scots
+ unpainted version

Mr Dick
[--David Copperfield--]
no maker's mark

Mr Pickwick
[--The Pickwick Papers--]
+ prototype

Mozart

Nancy
[--Oliver Twist--]

Napoleon

Nelson

Nell Gwynn

Othello

Pope John Paul II

Nicholas Nickleby
[--Nicholas Nickleby--]
prototype

Romeo

Schubert

Shakespeare

Sherlock Holmes
+ unpainted version

Sir Francis Drake

Statue of Liberty
uncrowned version

Theodore Roosevelt

Thomas Jefferson
+ unpainted version

Tiny Tim
[--A Christmas Carol--]

Tom Sawyer

Victoria
+ prototype

Walter Raleigh

Winston Churchill
without hat version with no maker's mark

Winston Churchill
with hat version


  Sutherland China  
Current Royal Family
the Queen Mother is larger than the first four thimbles shown


Prince Charles
+ unpainted version

Princess Diana

Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother


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  Theodore Paul  
Fine English bone china
a few are similar moulds to Staffordshire's

Theodore Paul backstamp


Abraham Lincoln

Elizabeth I

Sherlock Holmes

Victoria

Winston Churchill


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Thimble Collectors Society
English made and bone china
these were made for the TCS by Harlequin Design Studio


Lady Hamilton

Lord Nelson


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  Tony Wood Studio  
Staffordshire - England

Some of these were offered for sale in 1984-1985 by The Thimble Guild in Scotland
they are like Toby Jugs in shape, with the opening at the top
the original Toby Jugs of the 18th century made by Ralph Wood jnr form the basis for this series of thumbles
similar designs may be seen under Wood Potters
Tony Wood is the ninth generation direct descendent of Ralph Wood - based in Stoke-on-Trent in England
the thimbles are made of pottery and usually they are unnamed - the names used here, are from the TTG adverts
4950 sets were made and they are handpainted, dated and signed - according to the advertisement
where I know the initials for each particular thimble, they are included - if anyone knows who the painters are from these initials, please share!
32 painters' initials have been recorded to date =
A B
A M
A W
BM
C A Z
C H
C N
D B
D D
D D H
D D K
DW
H B
J F
J M
J P
J W
K D
K M
L H
L T
M B
M D
M P
P D
R P
S E
S Q
S W
T B
V W
W J


backstamps and boxed version


Betsy Toby
W J 87

The Clerk
W J 87
J F 87
L H 87

The Collier
W J 87
M D 84
J F 88

Dr Johnson
+ J W 87
M D 87
D B 87

Earl Howe
1st Lord of the Admiralty
+ W J 87
J P 87

Falstaff
L H 87

The Gamekeeper
J F 87

The Gardener
J F 87
W J 87

The Haymaker
M D 87
J F 87
V W 87

Hearty Goodfellow
J F 88

The Judge
D D H 87
L H 87
P D 87

The Lover
+ J F 87

Martha Gunn
black & white image

The Musician
+ A W 87
J F 87

Old Age
J F 87
M D 87
J F 87

The Parson
J F 88
D W 87

Ralph Wood
J F 87
+ another painter

The Sailor
M D 84

The Shepherd
+ J F 87
D D K 87

The Shepherdess
+ T B 87
D D 85

The Squire
J F 87
L H 94
T B 87

The Thin Man
JW 85
J F 87
J F 88

Toby Philpot
+ another painter

unknown character
J P 87
M D 87


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  United Artists  
USA
distributed by Royal Orleans

© U.A backstamp


Inspector Clouseau

Pink Panther


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  Victoria China  
Cats
English made - bone china.
these ones differ from Francesca thimbles, in that their finish is matt
the cats often resemble each other in shape, but the colouring is so different that the cats are easily identifiable

Victoria backstamp


Tabby cat

Black and white cat

Black cat

Blue Persian

Siamese chocolate point

Other cats known to have been produced
  • White cat
  • Marmalade cat
  • Siamese blue point
  • Siamese seal point
  • White Persian


  Victoria China  
Dogs
this listing is becoming more complete, but one rarely sees the full set nowadays


Alsatian/German Shepherd

Border Collie

Brindle Boxer

Weimaraner

Black and Red Dachshunds

Yorkshire and West Highland Terriers

Staffordshire, Brindle and Black Bull Terriers

Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis

Golden and Black Labradors

Cocker Spaniels

King Charles and Cavalier Spaniels

Jack Russell and Fox Terriers

Other dogs known to have been produced
  • Doberman - black and tan
  • Doberman - chocolate

  •   Victoria China  
    Owls
    the Victoria China owls are immensely popular with owl collectors as their owls are so realistic, using the matt colours found in nature - the thimbles are unnamed with the owl's names
    it would be a braver person than I am to try and name them from the list below!!
    if you know which is which, please help!!


    Little owl

    Barn owl

    Snowy owl

    Owls known to have been produced
    • Eagle owl
    • Short-eared owl
    • Tawny owl
    • Tengmalms Owl


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      Wood Potters of Burslem  
    these were sold by The Thimble Guild, in late 1991-1992
    they are made of pottery and follow the shape of the 18th century Toby Jugs
    Wood Potters of Burslem is a continuation of the line of Wood Family potters
    similar designs may be seen under Tony Wood.

    Betsy Toby

    Toby Philpot


    The Thimble Guild certificate


      Wood Potters of Burslem  
    Miniature Classics
    "In the 18th century Ralph Wood created the 'Toby Jug'. From his original designs, twelve miniature pieces have been recreated in the 1992 edition of Traditional Toby Thumbles ........ Wood Potters of Burslem ....... Slipcast and handpainted collectors treasures for you" -- excerpt from The Thimble Guild catalogue
    6 painters' initials recorded to date
    C G
    D B
    J F
    J W
    L H
    S H

    there is now an extra Wood Character Jug thimble that I can't identify with any of the existing Wood Potters' shapes offered for sale by The Thimble Guild - but it does correspond to a character made earlier by the Tony Wood Studio!!


    backstamps


    The Clerk
    + J W 92

    Collier
    J W 92

    Falstaff
    + L H 92

    The Gamekeeper
    + C G 92

    The Haymaker

    Hearty Goodfellow
    J F 92

    The Lover
    + J W 92

    Martha Gunn
    + J F 92

    The Musician
    + J F 92

    Old Age
    + J W 92

    Ralph Wood
    ['Toby Jug' creator]
    + J W 93

    Toby Philpot
    + another painter

    Other Wood thimbles not in the original set sold by The Thimble Guild in 1991-1992


    The Judge
    J W 87


      Wood Potters of Burslem  
    Toby Jug Thumble Collection


    this set contains = Parson | Collier | Ralph Wood | The Lover | Martha Gunn | Hearty Goodfellow | Squire | Sailor | Thin Man | Shepherdess | Toby Philpot
    so this is another set with some different Wood Potters characters from the above set/s?


      Wood Potters of Burslem  
    Dickens Characters


    selection of most popular and familiar characters
    including Uriah Heep, Oliver Twist, Pip and Ebenezer Scrooge


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    Any questions or comments?
    thimbleselect@bigpond.com

      Last updated 12 March 2014  
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