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Bone china figurine depicting Ferdinand the Bull - 2006

Bone china figurine depicting Ferdinand the Bull
    Bone china figurine depicting Ferdinand the Bull

Sculptor and designer Arnold Machin created Ferdinand the Bull in 1942, in the midst of World War Two. Machin is best remembered for designing the effigies of Her Majesty the Queen for the new coinage in 1964 and on decimal currency introduced in 1967, as well as the definitive portrait found on British postage stamps. Machin was a conscientious objector, and Josiah Wedgwood V managed to keep him out of prison because he needed an expert modeller to join the company. Machin designed many pieces, and had a distinct style.

Sculptor and designer Arnold Machin created Ferdinand the Bull in 1942, in the midst of World War Two. Machin is best remembered for designing the effigies of Her Majesty the Queen for the new coinage in 1964 and on decimal currency introduced in 1967, as well as the definitive portrait found on British postage stamps. Machin was a conscientious objector, and Josiah Wedgwood V managed to keep him out of prison because he needed an expert modeller to join the company. Machin designed many pieces, and had a distinct style. He actually designed two stylised bulls for Wedgwood: the flowery Ferdinand, and the feistier Taurus who was decorated with the signs of the zodiac. Both bulls were slip cast and made in two pieces, meaning that they took less time and labour to produce. This was a useful economy during wartime, as many of the employees had gone to work in munitions factories or had gone to war. We believe that Ferdinand was inspired by a children's story written during the Spanish Civil War. That story was about another Ferdinand. He didn't want to fight in the bullring, preferring to sit in the fields and smell the flowers! Machin's experience as a conscientious objector must have given his Ferdinand a special meaning. Unfortunately at the time Ferdinand was not as popular with customers as Taurus, and Ferdinand was withdrawn in favour of his more ferocious sibling. This modern example was created in bone china, unlike the 1940s pieces which were in Queen's ware, and was manufactured from the same mould. It has been decorated with floral lithographs and hand painted to pick out detail on the head, hooves and tail. The item was created by the craftspeople in the Wedgwood Visitor Centre in 2006 and was donated to the museum in the same year. It was part of a very small edition of bone china Ferdinand's made especially for the Museum, each uniquely decorated.

  • Type of object: Portraits and figures/figurine
  • Mark: (Unmarked)
  • Year produced: 2006
  • Body: Bone china
  • Glaze: clear glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: hand-painted, lithographed
  • Accession number: 14181
  • Dimensions: 170 mm (approximate height), 295 mm (approximate length), 64 mm (approximate width)

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Related people

  • Arnold Machin Modeller

    Arnold Machin - Modeller (1911 - 1999)

    Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911. He started work at the age of 14 as an apprentice china painter at the Minton Pottery, and during the Depression he learnt to sculpt at the Art School in Stoke-on-Trent. He later moved to Derby, and the Royal Academy in London. After spending the Second World War as a conscientious objector, he returned to modelling and sculpture, and created many notable ceramics which are now prized collectors' items. In 1946 he was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy, was appointed a Master of Sculpture from 1959 to 1966 and became the longest-serving member of the Academy. He was elected an Academician in 1956 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. From 1951 he was a tutor at the Royal College of Art, where he entered the culture that was to bring him his most celebrated commissions. He was probably best remembered for the designing of the new decimal coinage effigies of Queen Elizabeth in 1964 and 1967 and for the definitive issue of postage stamps in 1967.

Glossary

  • Bone china

    Bone china

    A porcelain made from clay and feldspathic rock with the addition of about 50 percent of calcined animal bone. Josiah Wedgwood II introduced bone china at the Wedgwood Etruria factory in 1812.