I know I have mentioned these before, but here they are again. Made in Italy in the 1950's, they are surprisingly hard to come by - I think they were manufactured for the tourist trade, are roughly made, and break easily.
I got my first one from Snoopers' Paradise in the North Laine, in Brighton around 2005. We used to love that place when we first went to Brighton, but when we have revisited recently, it is but a shadow of its former self - full of tat. I can't now remember which poodle was the first, or what appealed to me about it, but next time when we went back, they had another, and the grumpy bloke on the till, surprisingly, produced a third one from out the back. That was it. I now have 40.
I started getting them off Ebay - most quite cheap, under £20.00, from the UK, but others, at vast cost, from America. The most expensive were the three joined together, pictured here. I am not saying how much, in case Philosopher sees it. Many poodle collectors seem to be American, living in small town places you have never heard of...
Very few come from shops or antique fairs - one enormous (26 inch high) floral one with a detachable hat ashtray from Malvern, one from Rye, and two from the scabby junk yard in Courthouse Street in Hastings. That is surprising, considering the vast acreage of junk and antiques we have picked through over the years.
I don't really know why I like them. Often their thickly applied spaghetti curls are broken, or chipped. Some have repaired breaks. They are hand painted, so each has a different facial expression - usually degrees of cheerful gormlessness, and their spaghetti whiskers bristle with hopeful doggy enthusiasm.
I like the long-necked seated ones best - they are so classically 1950s, but they also come sitting, standing, begging, in a 'play-bow', holding baskets of flowers and pulling little posy vase carts.
Our friend Alan from Birmingham, who attends even more antique fairs than us, also looks out for poodles for me, and he found my first spaghetti cat - even rarer than poodles.
The cats were clearly made by the same people - the style of spaghetti is the same, they have the same black ink writing on the bases, and they have the same collars, but their face are very bizarre, with huge, heavily made-up eyes and bouffant curls they look more like effeminate nineteenth century dandies than cats.
Anyway, here is one of my latest acquisitions.
This is actually a different sort of poodle - heavier, with different style floral painting, and a very different face. If possible, he looks even more gormless than the normal ones.
Not surprisingly, I have never met anyone else who collects these things!
I would also like to know more about them - where in Italy they come from, who manufactured them, but searching on the internet gets me nowhere.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.