The term ‘Goss China’ is used to refer to the products of the Falcon Pottery, owned by William Henry Goss and situated in Stoke on Trent.

As a young man, William was befriended by Alderman Copeland while studying at Somerset House in London, which was then the School of Art and Design.

On graduating, he was appointed Chief designer at the Copeland factory in Stoke and sculpted classical figures, groups and busts with which the Copeland name became synonymous.

In 1858, at the age of 25, he started his own company and continued to produce similar wares in competition with Copeland, developing processes for making jewelled vases and scent bottles in highly elaborate designs. Early in his career he entered into partnership with a a terracotta roofing tile manufacturer, Mr. Peake, and during this short period produced a range of terracotta water coolers, spill vases, tobacco jars and other wares. This partnership lasted for only about a year and they soon went their own ways.

In the early 1880’s William’s eldest son, Adolphus, joined the firm. He had been raised in a home adorned with his father’s collection of antiques. In those days an antique was a Greek or Roman pot and William was a keen antiquarian. As a child, Adolphus was encouraged by his father to take an interest in heraldry, and it was he who suggested that the company should take advantage of the new niche market of seaside souvenir collecting and produce miniature copies of Greek and Roman pots and vases, decorated with the coat of arms of coastal towns to be sold as “seaside souvenirs”.

This caught on in a big way, and by the turn of the century had become a collecting craze. Soon every seaside resort, town and city in the U.K had its arms produced and sold by a Goss appointed agent.

It is believed that, in 1910, some 95% of homes in Britain had some “Crested china” on the mantelpiece, sideboard or whatnot.

In addition to heraldic arms, Goss china may be found decorated with multichrome or monochrome transfer prints, commemorative designs, Regimental and Battleship insignia, flowers, seaweed, ancient armour, children’s nursery designs and a host of other attractive decorations. The factory also produced a range of miniature houses and cottages all being faithful reproductions of actual buildings. These have become highly collectable and the scarcer ones now command substantial prices.

Other factories in Stoke quickly noted the commercial success of the Goss range of products and “jumped on the band wagon”, producing their own range of similar wares, generally of inferior quality although a number of companies, including Arcadian, Willow, Grafton and Shelley produced quality wares and are now collected, quite rightly, in their own right.

After the Great War the interest in heraldic porcelain began to wane and in 1929 the Goss family sold out to a competitor who continued to use the highly respected Goss name to market inferior ware. Despite this, dedicated Goss collectors still regard any piece of china or pottery carrying the Goss trademark as genuine Goss. The use of the trademark fell into disuse after 1938.

In the 1950’s a few people began to collect these little pots once again and this has now grown into a fascinating collecting hobby for thousands of people. Such is the respect now given to these pieces that all the leading auction houses, including Sotherby’s, Christies and Phillips have been known to include them in their sales, and rarer items can still command significant amounts of money.