Derby Mansion House Dwarf, playing cards coat, c. 1800
Rare early Derby figure of a Mansion House Dwarf, the comical figure modeled standing with one hand on his ample belly, a cane head in his other hand, his waistcoat in bright yellow with harlequin hatches to the front, playing cards to the edges, and the rear with three large tools – a grill, a pair of tongs, and a shovel- his large hat plain with a red sash. Patch marks, inscribed No.227, c.1800
chip to hat restored, ankles restuck.
ref.Bradshaw -Derby figures- No.227, p312 for the type. The title Mansion House Dwarf is a later association, relating to a father/son pair of dwarfs in Tudor times who would use their large hats for advertising space as they stood outside Mansion House. However, Bradshaw notes that the earlier references refer to Callots, meaning the illustrator of the 17th century, and these in turn inspired Meissen figures, which inspired Chelsea and Derby. The plain hatted examples appear to be earlier, with the Mansion House legend springing up in the early 19th century, and later examples having multiple adverts painted onto their hats.