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Certainly some collectors of Beatrix Potter figures only look for those with the pre-1971 'gold' mark (replaced by the 'brown' mark a couple of years after Beswick were taken over by Royal Doulton in 1969), believing them to be superior.Perhaps the rarest of all Beswick's output is the .Established in 1894 at Longton, Stoke-on-Trent by James Wright Beswick and his sons John and Gilbert, the Beswick Pottery first made its name producing affordable tablewares and ornaments.It was not until the 1930s (and specifically the introduction of a high fired bone china in 1934), that the firm turned to the animal modelling that would be their stock-in-trade for the rest of the century.As a general rule, common figures will command prices below 'guide' values - the rarest figures may generate competition above notional guidelines.From flamingo wall plaques to an outsize 'fireside' model of the popular penguin series, there are rarities in all subject areas. Others are rare only in certain colours (the emergence of a model in 'trial' colours will always excite collectors) or in glaze variations (some figures were available in either matt or gloss finishes).Aided by a proliferation of books and guides and an enviably large collecting base that included a loyal following within nostalgic farming communities, prices saw a dramatic acceleration between 20.

The 1987 by Harvey May was the first time a complete list of all the Beswick figures, birds and animals had appeared in print.

Many more would follow with information regarding decoration, modelling and backstamp variations - and the quiet realisation that these elements held the keys to rarity and desirability.

By the onset of the 21st century, Beswick livestock and bloodstock models ranked among the star performers in the collectable ceramics market.

Prices start from just a few pounds (e Bay is still a good place to buy) and rise to thousands of pounds for rare models or colours.

The many price guides are useful in identification but they are only guides.

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