Wade Ceramics has had a chequered history. Founded in 1810 in Stoke-on-Trent, it was called George Wade & Son. Other members of the Wade family formed their own small pottery companies and eventually, in the 20th century, they were all united under the ownership of Colonel George A Wade.

 

Under his direction, the companies acquired other potteries including one in Portadown, Northern Ireland. It wasn't until 1958 that the companies were amalgamated into one group, Wade, Heath & Co Ltd. In 1989, the group was bought by Beaufort Plc and its link with the Wade family came to an end although it is still run as a separate group under the name Wade Ceramics Ltd.

During most of their history, the companies in the Wade group had concentrated on industrial ceramics until the 1920s and 30s when Wade produced its first decorative figures. They were:

 

Van Hallen Figurines - 1927 to late 1930s

Art Deco and classic figurines decorated after the first firing with a 'Scintillate' finish, a cellulose spray paint. The company claimed it was the equivalent of the fine finish of a motor car. Time has shown the finish was not so good and has yellowed and cracked on many figurines. Examples still with an uncracked or yellowed finish are highly prized by collectors. During the 1930s, these figurines were also made with underglaze decoration. A few of these pieces were reissued during the 1950s.

 

Wade Whimsies from 1953 to 1984

After World War II, the Wade factory started producing cute figurines called Wade Whimsies to keep the Portadown factory busy after it lost contracts for porcelain electrical insulators.

 

Between 1954 and 1959 Whimsies were sold in boxed sets and many sets were given away free with Red Rose Tea in Canada and the USA. It wasn't until 1971 that individual figures were on sale and this continued until 1984.

 

Over the years, Wade has produced several hundred of these solid porcelain mini figurines in dozens of different sets. The many ranges include dogs, cats, birds, snow animals, pets, wildlife, farm animals, dinosaurs, nursery rhyme figures, circus figures, miniature houses, leprechauns, monks and even Disney animals. All these figures are highly collectable and some are very valuable as they are becoming more scarce. Most of these figures were free premiums included in boxes of tea and party crackers.