On the 28th July 1866 Helen Beatrix Potter came into the world. Born to upper-class parents Miss Potter would go on to be known as Beatrix and would become one of the world’s bestselling and best loved authors in the whole world.
Beatrix Potter wrote 28 books, but it’s the 23 tales about a group of sprightly pets and entertaining woodland animals that have captured the hearts and minds of the public. Her stories have inspired children and adults alike, spanning generations. It’s no surprise then, that Beatrix Potter collectibles are big business.
From soft, cuddly toys to delicate figurines, the colourful characters and glorious settings depicted in Potter’s books have evoked people’s interest. There’s a whole range of Beatrix Potter collectibles, dating back as far as the early 1900’s when the first book was published. Let’s check out a few of the favourites:
How about a soft and cuddly character to place lovingly on your bed or to decorate a dull guest room? Not just for little kids, soft toys are for adults too (especially if you have a penchant for Beatrix Potter books and the enchanting characters in them).
Back in 1905 renowned soft toy makers Steiff introduced their own Peter Rabbit, this is one of the earliest examples of Peter – complete with trademark blue jacket and beautifully soft slippers on his feet. If you are hankering to buy one it won’t be a cheap and cheerful purchase by any means – a Steiff Peter Rabbit sold at auction back in 2006 for over £2000. The rabbit in question was in good condition but was for sale minus one of his slippers.
You can spend as little as or as much as you want on your plush rabbits, frogs and hedgehogs, prices range from the affordable to the extravagant depending on your requirements. One rather luxurious example was a Peter Rabbit made from mohair and donning a fetching blue coat (resplendent with shiny gold buttons), and soft as butter hand-crafted leather shoes.
Beatrix Potter was very keen to have her wildlife friends transformed from 2D characters sitting on the page into colourful figurines and, being the forward-thinking woman that she was, she decided to get the ball rolling herself. Potter got hold of some clay and began to shape it to resemble her lovable characters. She then contacted Royal Doulton to showcase her ideas, however the company chose not to pursue the project.
Ten years later another company ,Grimwades (a firm based in Stoke-on-Trent), stepped forward and created their own clay figure of Jemima Puddleduck. They sent the figurine to Potter to see what she thought of it, but unfortunately, she didn’t really like the design and again the project was a non-starter.
Sadly, Beatrix would pass away in 1943 without ever getting to see her characters made into 3D figures, however a company did eventually begin to produce the ceramic ornaments and they finally came to market. The popularity of Beatrix Potter figurines started to rise and nowadays there are now many collectors, all keen to showcase their Jemima Puddle-Duck and Peter Rabbit statuettes. We wonder if Beatrix Potter would approve?
Royal Mint Coins
Bored of the usual silver and copper coins bouncing your pocket? How about a collection of Beatrix Potter coins instead? You might not be able to take them to the shop and spend until your heart’s content, but the coins are lovely to look it and a nice memento of the much-loved stories, glorious settings and lively countryside characters depicted in the books.
Again, synonymous with childhood fun and games, but board games aren’t just for the boys and girls. Board games featuring playing pieces moulded to look like the characters from Beatrix Potter stories are immensely popular with collectors, and not just those who are keen on Potter paraphernalia. Board game officiendos also like to add Beatrix Potter games to their beloved collections.
Value wise as with most collectibles, the older the better (as long as the games are in good condition), but it’s worth collecting the newer games too. Look out for Beatrix Potter inspired card games and plastic tile puzzles.
There something to be said for collecting pretty containers, they can brighten up your home and if you are a fan of Beatrix Potter and her stories it’s nice to be surrounded by items that depict her tales.
There are lots of different containers to pick up – look out for cute bubble bath bottles (shaped and made to look like your favourite characters). There’s a Tom Kitten, Benjamin Bunny and of course a Peter Rabbit style one, to name but a few. You might also be lucky enough to own or find a toiletry set (often containing bubble bath, talc and bath melts), you might be tempted to open and use them, but the collectible value here is assigned to the pretty packaging rather than the products inside!
You might also find tissue boxes and calendars, foil wrappers and boxes from Easter Eggs, and tins adorned with illustrations of Potter’s amazing world. Do not throw these away! An item in great condition that also comes with intact packaging is a very desirable piece for a collector.
Other offerings include money boxes, and musical boxes. These are often beautifully illustrated and presented in a yet another pretty looking box. Choose a money box with a picture of the cute as a button Flopsy bunnies on the front, with their little capes tied around their necks and smiles on their faces as they head off to pick some lovely juicy blackberries. Or how about a miniature carousal featuring some of your favourite characters? Wind it up and listen to the melodic tunes as you watch the figures gently rotate in time to the soothing music. An item for babies and young children? They would certainly enjoy playing with and looking at it, but these items are also great pieces to add to your collection.
Games, coins, pretty boxes, and cute stuffed bunnies and frogs are all well and good but let’s get to the nitty gritty here!
Potter is an author and illustrator, so if you want to get to the heart of where it all started then you need to turn your attention to her books.
If she hadn’t had sat down and penned those fabulous tales there would be nothing to base all the memorabilia on. To see where it all began we head back to the start of the 1900’s, when the first book – The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was privately printed. Another followed soon after and Potter became linked to publisher Frederick Warne. The books were designed to be purposely small, so children could easily pick them up (Beatrix Potter thought this up as she wanted to make sure little hands could easily access her tales). There were 23 tales in this series in total, featuring a wonderful array of characters. We are privileged to meet Peter Rabbit and his plethora of friends including Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny, and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
Books are lovely items to collect, arrange them on bookshelves to give you’re your room warmth and character. Curl up in an armchair and relive much-loved stories (or share them with sons, daughters, nieces and nephews). They can provide hours of joy and are wonderful keepsakes. If you can find a first edition (and have a spare few thousand pounds), snap it up as an investment for the future! However, we don’t suggest you allow sticky-fingered visitors to start flicking through such a special book! Tell them to get their own copy!
Over the years the general design has remained the same - the books are known for their small and square look. However, whenever a book reaches its centenary year the publishers now release it with an eye-catching gold cover. These look very effective and make a wonderful gift for a friend, family member or to add to your own Beatrix Potter collection (why not treat yourself)?
There are so many wonderful items that you can collect. Memento’s that will make you think of Beatrix Potter and her commitment and passion when it came to providing us with not only her wonderful books but also for the many lovely items on offer. We have to wonder what Miss Potter would think about all of this? We doubt she would have predicted that after more than one hundred years of Beatrix Potter her stories and characters would still be loved, cherished and desired by so many people.