Wooden Souvenir ware guide

popular in Britain includes Mauchline ware, made in Scotland, and Tunbridge ware from Kent. Today it is treasured for nostalgic reasons, for the quality of the wood, and for its skilful, often intricate decoration.

Both Mauchline and Tunbridge ware were produced in a range of keepsake items - primarily boxes, but also useful objects such as rulers and inkstands. Although some examples with intricate decoration can be worth hundreds of pounds, common, simply decorated pieces can still be found for around £50 or less.

Mauchline ware is made of light, yellowy-beige sycamore, decorated with a dark-toned scene of a building or view, then given a gloss varnish

 with unusual turret design and showing Ravenscraig Castle, Dysart. c.1890, 8cm (3'Ain) high.

Early works were hand painted.

From the 1820s until 1933 (when a fire destroyed Smith's factory), pieces were mostly decorated by transfer printing of designs or, from the 1860s, of photographs.

The transfer was applied to an item, then given several coats of slow-drying varnish. The range is wide, so prices vary. A napkin jing can be found for around £10-20. An early hand-decorated box or snuff mull can command £300-900 or more.

Other finishes were produced by various makers. 'Tartanware' - small wooden objects covered in tartan - was bright and cheerful and satisfied the Victorian interest in all things Scottish.

 Early examples were hand decorated, but most pieces date from after the early 1850s, when colour- printed paper was glued to the piece, tht-n lightly varnished. Prices vary from k-ss than £100 for a simple 1870s pillbox to £500-800 or more for pieces that are large, early, or hand painted.

'Fernware' - small items decorated with a fern-leaf pattern - was introduced by several factories in the1870s. Various techniques were applied, such as.

using an actual fern leaf as a stencil and then stippling dark dye over it in overlapping shapes. Paper printed with a fern design and glued to the box was also common, but pieces decorated this way are less valuable. A small cylindrical box from about 1890 is usually worth up to around ,£50.

Kent's historic spa town of Tunbridge Wells produced high-quality wooden mementoes for the Georgian and Victorian tourists who flocked to the i town for its curative spring waters.

This ware has its origins in the 17th century, when small, useful pieces of treen (such as drinking vessels) were made by local craftsmen. Production grew as tourism increased. Early pieces (pre-1820s), using the traditional marquetry techniques found in furniture, are much sought after. Most later Tunbridge ware was created using the stickwork' method, by which slim rods of different-coloured

In the late 1700s a Scottish inventor, John Sandy, created the 'hidden hinge'snuffbox, using a cutting device that hid the brass pin connecting the lid to the box; this gave the appearance of an all-wood, hingeless box. The resulting box, the first to prevent expensive snuff from leaking into the user's pocket, was exploited by James Stiven of Laurencekirk, Scotland. It was the impetus for the snuffbox industry in Scotland, in and around

Mauchtine woods are cut into paper-thin tesserae (tiles) and applied to the surfaces as in a mosaic. At its most popular, between 1840 and 1890, Tunbridge ware used floral designs, stylised natural motifs, local scenes, and profiles - notably of Queen Victoria. 

The variety is huge, and includes items such as magnifying glasses and paper knives as well as boxes for pills, stamps, matches, tea, and other household essentials. Larger pieces or ones with intricate designs are more valuable, if in good condition. A small trinket box with a simple geometric design can fetch £30-60, a dip pen £40-60, a larger or more complex box £250-650 or more. Notable makers include Henry Hollamby, Thomas Barton, and the Wise and Burrows families.

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