Goss & Crested China


William Henry Goss worked his way up to become chief artist and designer at the Copeland factory, producing mostly parian busts of notable figures.  After he started his own business in 1858, he produced parian ware, coloured enamels which were decorated at other potteries, a small range of terracotta ware and other lines which included jewelled scent bottles and vases, flower vases and brooches.

His son, Adolphus, saw the potential of heraldic models for those on holiday who wanted to buy as a souvenir a miniature china ornament with a crest of the town or place visited, and the first of these models were made in 1881.  Such was the demand for this heraldic ware that it soon replaced all the other production, and most Goss crested models were produced from 1888 to 1929.

In late Victorian and Edwardian times collecting crested china became a craze.  By 1921 there were 1,378 British agencies selling Goss china, and 186 overseas agencies in 24 countries.  Over 2,500 different shapes of model were produced by the Goss factory, which were hand painted with over 10,000 different crests.

After the company was sold in 1929 its new owners continued to produce crested china until 1934, when it diversified its product range, but the factory closed in 1939.

Goss crested china fell out of fashion after the War and large quantities of it were discarded, but a revival has seen a surge of interest amongst collectors and the formation of special clubs for Goss collectors, and comprehensive catalogues of all known pieces and crests have been produced.

The success of crested china brought many other factories into the market, including potteries such as Grafton, Shelley, Carlton, Savoy, Willow Art and Arcadian.  A bewildering array of over 300 manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, trade marks and other names can be found on crested china, and there are many pieces which were not marked.  None of these factories is generally considered to have produced such fine china as Goss.

The number of different models surviving which have the Christ’s Hospital crest suggest that there must have been a brisk trade in the school Post Office, where these souvenirs used to be sold.  Many of the models illustrated are from a private collection.