There is an almost infinite array of collectables relating to Bruce Bairnsfather and his character Old Bill, most common of which are the items of pottery. Makes include Grimswade, Winton, Atlas China, Royal Stafford, Royal Doulton, crested ware, Beswick and Anon.
Other collectables include motor mascots for both cars and motorcycles, metal ashtrays, model 'Ole Bill' B Type buses, various items of treen, these are mostly individual items, books written by Bairnsfather. Countless books have been published, written by Bairnsfather and others. Countless items of ephemera including Fragments from France or Bystander, postcards, theatre programmes, posters, sheet music, tickets, magazines, cigarette cards, prints both coloured and sepia.
Some of the more unusual collectables include fabric/knitted dolls, glass slides for magic lanterns, match box holders, cardboard Old Bill sweet containers, one off items made by individuals eg, carved wood and cast bronze busts of Old Bill.
The ultimate collectable is the original Bruce Bairnsfather drawing or sketch, ranging from pub signs down to autographed sketches in books. The creme de la creme is the published Fragments drawing as seen in Fragments from France.
Below are some photos and write up of collectables.
Grimswades was the Midland factory which from 1917 mass produced a cheap range of pottery items which were given the generic term Bairnsfatherware. The cream coloured pottery was printed with transfers of the Fragments from France cartoons. The transfers were produced by the Chromotransfer and Pottery Supplies Co Ltd of Stoke on Trent.
Each was reproduced from a separate lithographic stone. Production continued well into the 20s. The quality of the transfer printing, gilding and glazing varies considerably, some glaze being very noticeably crazed.
Many of the pieces were made for ornamental rather than practical use. Even everyday items were designed to hang on walls, sit on mantleshelves or be displayed in glass cabinets. Plates can often be described as wall plaques with holes bored in the back for hanging string and a very flat shape.
Bairnsfatherware is particularly of interest to BB collectors because of the Fragments cartoon transfers. Many pieces are also of interest to Crested china collectors as they bear a town or exhibition crest or coat of arms.
There are 2 main mascots the car and motorcycle mascots, with a 3rd much rarer light car mascot. All 3 depict Old Bill's head with tin hat, walrus moustache and long muffler. Bruce Bairnsfather's signature is around the helmet. The car mascot measures 11 cm high with the copywrite number 669204 under the muffler or around the rim of the muffler. Sometimes mascots bear the mark S or T.Came in bronze brass or chrome.
The motorcycle mascot is 7 cm high, copywrite number 985204.(a couple of solid silver motorcycle mascots complete with silver hallmarks have come to like, they bare the copyright mark and numbers)
The mascots were produced by Messrs Louis Lejeune Mascots Ltd (still being produced today), or Smiths. The picture below shows all 3 mascots.
"OLD BILL" WOOD CARVING
carved in 45mm thick oak 33 x 21 cm and inscribeed:
"To Michael with regards
THE HALF MOON"
made by the landlord eric sinclair who ran the pub opposite the old forge in north chapel were bairnsfather lived
THE BETTER OLE 1926 poster
nut brown tin sign
Wanted any Bruce Bairnsfather /Old Bill collectables especially original drawings paintings and hand written items
please email firstname.lastname@example.org