Trumpton and Beswick came together very late in the day in 2001.
Quite why it took so long is anyone's guess, and it nearly didn't happen at all as the factory ceased trading soon after.
There were 10 seperate characters produced,each with a limited editon of 2,500.
The first 6 made their debut in the very first issue of the Doulton Direct catalogue,dated Spring 2001.
TR1 Captain Flack TR2 The Mayor TR3 PC McGarry TR4 Windy Miller TR5 Doctor Mopp TR6 Mrs Honeyman
They featured again in the next issue (Summer 2001),and were then joined by the last 4 in the Autumn 2001 issue. And the thumbs show the 2 pages from that Autumn issue with all 10 featured. (NOTE - if the text isn't fully legible your browser has automatically reduced the pic size )
TR7 Mrs.Dingle TR8 Johnathan Bell TR9 Mickey Murphy TR10 Mrs Cobbett
So that's 8 from Camberwick,2 from Trumpton and none from Chigley.
And I think it's pretty clear the intention was to keep rolling them out over time.
Which brings us neatly onto why they didn't ........
Unfortunately,the definitive answer to that probably lies with a handful of insiders who were there at the time.
But I presume it was either due to ......
1) Uncertainty over Beswick's future and its' imminent closure in 2002.
2) A commercial decision based purely on poor sales of those initial releases.
And whilst I'd like to think the 2nd one is unlikely,you do have to wonder just how many Beswick fans would've been sufficiently inspired to buy,and how many Trumpton fans even knew they existed ?
Maybe we should just be thankful we got anything at all.
And,judging by the healthy resale market,I'm not alone in thinking that.
So .............. what are they worth now ? (all the following based solely on ebay auctions)
Amounts differ quite significantly from figure to figure.
And the market is always subject to distortion because not all buyer's are bothered about book values or what Doctor Mopp happened to fetch 2 months ago.
In fact,even if I were to start listing every single ebay sale price you'd still get a potentially distorted view because of all the variables involved.
And the only really concrete conclusion you can come to is that the figures in the 2nd batch are worth considerably more than the 1st batch.......even if the reason is still unclear.
But,maybe,it's possible that production was curtailed and not all 2,500 were actually made.Because,even if sales had been poor,the unsold ones would surely have found their way into circulation somehow.
So,whilst I'd love to be able to tell you with absolute certainty that McGarry will fetch "X",Dingle "Y" and it was Colonel Mustard in the study using the candlestick..........I'm afraid I can't..........no-one can.
Even full sets of 10 are tricky to value because there's always the risk that people might pay over-the-odds simply because they know they crop up so rarely.
That said,the last 4 sets have actually proved to be remarkably consistant,despite spanning 6 years :-
£900 Dec.2009 ..... £817 Oct. 2010 ..... £841 Dec.2010 ..... and a 5 year wait before one fetched £800 in July 2015
Although the record price that I'm aware of was a stonking £1200 back in Feb.2008,when prices were generally more buoyant.
Whilst I'm reticent to quote amounts for individual characters,the record price I've seen for any of the 10 in the last few years was when someone paid £293 for Mickey Murphy in October 2010. (although only £181 was paid in April 14 for one in the same mint condition with box & cert)
The other 2 big hitters from that 2nd batch,messrs Dingle & Cobbett,are usually around the same level.
Although Jonathan Bell consistantly fetches a lot less for some reason.
Lowest priced figures ?
Always Mrs Honeyman & The Mayor,who often go for as little as £30 to £40 a piece.
All-in-all,not bad for 10 ceramic figures that were practically made yesterday and cost just £400 for the set when new.
And when you think that you can pick up some fantastic Victorian and Georgian antiques for a lot less,I'm not entirely sure it feels quite right. But there you go.
Pics anyone ?
The Mayor gets sole-billing here simply because he's the only one I've ever had in my possession to photograph.
(similar quality efforts of all the others,plus the book prices would be great. Anyone ? Email on home page.)
Irrespective of all the talk about factory closures & resale values,what do you actually think of them ?
For my part,I have to confess I thought the Mayor was a bit disappointing close-up.
With a general lack of detailing in the moulding.An indeterminate dirty yellow colour passing for the gold of his chain of office.And that ubiquitous cobbled base that just seems unnecessarily obtrusive and quite twee -or,if you're being really unkind, just plain "naff" !
But maybe I just got carried away with all the Beswick hype and expected too much.
Because it's easy to forget they only cost £40 each when new,and should be judged accordingly.
How about you ?
Would you buy them ? And,if so .........
As an investment just because they're Beswick ?
Because you rate them as pieces of ceramics ?
Or simply because of the happy memories they represent ?
Final thought ........
Is that really the last we'll ever see of Beswick ?
Well,as things stand,the obvious answer is clearly "yes"
But just because Doulton can't make the numbers stack up doesn't mean that someone else might think differently and try to buy it off them.
Well,it's probably more likely than Doulton having a rethink.And it may well take a very wealthy and slightly philanthropic individual to actually make it happen -driven as much by sentiment as hard business sense.
But it's not impossible to see a very small scale operation in the UK,bolstered by sub-contracted work in China. Particularly when you bear in mind the factory closed before Chinese outsourcing had become a serious option.
Although I fear a more likely doomsday scenario is that someone will effectively just buy the brand name.Transfer all production overseas and produce products that do little to reflect,or respect,the Beswick heritage.
Which is pretty much what Woolworth's did with the Chad Valley toy brand - for all the good it ultimately did them.
So let's hope I'm wrong.
Either way,I'd be very surprised if Beswick was allowed to rest in peace.
And we'll just have to hope it's properly ressurrected,and not merely exhumed.
And,on that rather cheerful note,I'll leave it there for now.
If you can help with either the current book prices or some additional photos then please do.
A typical base,with the figure number applied in a rather amateurish scrawl.