What is it about a past-time that turns a person into an avid collector of anything that bears a smidgeon of resemblance to their hobby. Starting out in Airedales back in the last century (I’m not as old as that sounds!), I collected the usual items on offer at breed club shows: club badges, stickers, bookmarks etc. Items of very little value and likewise took up very little room, more often than not languishing in drawers. As we carried on showing, I collected the odd small bronze and pottery models that the clubs offered. We broadened this to scouring car boot sales and antique fairs, at both of which we have found some very good and unusual models.
When we had a particularly good win we would celebrate by buying an Airedale model and in this way we collected Beswick, Royal Dalton, Coppercraft, Stonecraft and other specialist models. The collection expanded to books from Lieu. Col. Richardson's 40 years with dogs to the annually produced National Airedale Terrier Association Year Book. When I have visited countries I always wished I’d taken an empty suitcase to bring back everything I saw. I have models from Holland, Sweden, America and Ireland – all very carefully wrapped in paper and clothes and carried back as hand luggage. Some of these were gifts and some we bought. Making friends with other Airedale breeders and visiting their homes made me realise that there was a huge amount of breed collectables out there. I admired them all; even the fun ones. Our collection grew and all of these I wanted to display for all to see enjoy. We had agreed early on that we would limit all ‘doggy’ stuff to the study. Eventually shelving became over stuffed and groaned under the weight. A precarious situation for some of the china objects. Needless to say that the limiting to one room rule didn’t last very long!
Whilst campaigning on the Irish circuit we took a few days off to have a break and visit some sites. We visited the Waterford Crystal factory and stood in awe at some of the beautiful chandeliers and the more offbeat items made by this famous crystal company. Unfortunately (or should I say from my purse’s point of view – thankfully!) there were no Airedale models. It is odd how fate sometimes intervenes. I wanted to purchase an item for my mother but it was out of stock, so they directed me to a shop in the centre of Waterford. We duly visited the shop and whilst waiting for the item to be gift wrapped my husband was browsing and caught sight of what appeared to be an Airedale on the very top shelf and tucked away in the corner. We asked to have a closer look and to our delight it definitely was an Airedale made of white porcelain and stamped with the Meissen ‘crossed swords’. We were like two kids who’d found the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The only problem was we had spent all our holiday money but thankfully there is always our friendly ‘Mr Plastic’ which is very handy at these times. But I think even if there was no ‘Mr Plastic’ to hand we would have begged, borrowed, or stolen (well maybe not quite!) our way to getting this Airedale.
Some years ago a friend of ours had spoken about a Noritake model that was the prize of his collection (this was the only model out of their extensive collection that his wife took when they divorced!). I never actually saw the model (a bitch with her puppy) and this set me on the quest to find one. I even asked our office in Tokyo to enquire for me at a Noritake shop whether they could get one but the shop confirmed that production of that model had ceased sometime ago. This quest had a side affect in that we became interested in Noritake in general and started collecting some of their prettier items. When visiting America there was a Noritake model for sale at one of the shows but unfortunately some restoration had been made to the puppy. I seriously considered purchasing it but decided to buy a limited edition bronze ‘Airedales with Haystack’ instead. When judging in Australia a few years back we were discussing Airedale collectables with Jan and Peter Hatton and admiring their array of models, nestled amongst which was a Noritake model. I told them about my quest for the Noritake and fortunately they remembered this and when one of their Airedale friends was selling off his collection they mentioned my quest for a Noritake and he kindly brought it with him on a visit to the UK. It was in perfect condition and I was ecstatic in at last owning a Noritake ‘Airedale with Puppy’. My collection was complete, or is it………!
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