by Dr. Lori Verderame
Dogs and cats have been immortalized in art history and in decorative arts for centuries. From late 19th Century furniture featuring prominent and majestic lion’s heads to delicate ceramic dogs made in Staffordshire pottery or as a Royal Doulton toby mug, animal antiques demonstrate tradition and interesting symbolism.
Dogs are well-known symbols of loyalty, royal status, and fidelity. Fidelity comes from the Latin word fides and the popular dog’s name of fido is not far behind this lineage. Cats reference intelligent and intuitive qualities and these are widely collected as antiques and vintage objects such as cat figure McCoy pottery cookie jars, clocks, etc. While symbols abound, animal antiques also bring high value from pet lovers and others.
Many established producers of animal figurines like Royal Doulton, Goebel, and Rosenthal are commanding values into the many hundreds of dollars from collectors. An authentic Staffordshire dog could be valued as much as $1,000 in some cases.
What to Look For
Some of the most popular pet collectibles are sculptures, tobacco jars, cookie jars, cast iron door stops, dolls and stuffed animals, toys, and dinnerware sets. Pets have a great relationship in the history of art and they appear in famous paintings, major sculptures and public landmarks and as decorative subjects or detail motifs on many collectibles like shaving mugs, prints, and books. Condition is always important when considering any object. Be sure that your pet collectible has characteristic attributes. Some animals have particular references like lions which are viewed as sentinel or guard figures at entryways or roosters which are associated with female power and early knowledge of an event. Pet collectibles are more valuable if you have complete sets and they rare breeds are desirable too.
Get an online appraisal of your pet collectible from Dr. Lori.