17/07/2024

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Pendelfin Rabbits – 50 Years of Lancashire Stoneware Magic

2 min read
Pendelfin Rabbits – 50 Years of Lancashire Stoneware Magic

Pendelfin was born in 1953, in the shadow of the Pendle “Witch” hill near Burnley in Lancashire, in the north of England. It started out as little more than a hobby for Jean Walmsley Heap (J.W.H.) and Jeannie Todd, working from a wooden hut in Jeannie’s back garden. But this hobby soon became an obsession and a successful business as the Pendelfin family grew and grew.

The Pendle Witch

The very first PenDelfin piece was modelled on the Pendle Witch and took the form of a moulded wall plaque. This was followed by The Fairy Shop, a large 3-dimensional wall plaque based on an original painting by J.W.H.

Witches continued to be a popular theme, with more witch-based models being produced, including the Cauldron Witch, the Pixie House and on a completely different theme, the famous little Thrifty, modelled at the request of J.W.H.’s part-time employers, the Burnley Building Society.

The Rabbit Revolution

In 1956, a small family of rabbits were modelled for the first time. This proved to be a turning point for PenDelfin as the first batch of rabbits sold out almost instantly. Repeat orders started to pour in, and attention started to focus almost exclusively on producing PenDelfin’s trademark rabbit models, all with a carefully thought out character and history!

A band of musically-inclined rabbits, rabbit bookends, uncles, aunts and of course the original Father and Mother rabbits all followed, as well as many other lively young characters and several large and lovingly modelled stands to provide a backdrop to the PenDelfin village, as it became.

PenDelfin Expands – A Larger Factory for a Global Market

PenDelfin continued to expand, and although it had its trials and tribulations, by the 1970s was a well established company in Burnley, occupying a large part of a former mill building and dispatching members of the PenDelfin family to enthusiastic collectors all over the world.

In 1992 the PenDelfin Collectors Club was founded, with “Family Circle” pieces produced each year for club members only – some of which have become quite sought-after today.

The End?

PenDelfin was sold to a collectibles company in 2005, and in 2006 the Burnley factory shut down, as production was outsourced abroad. Either because of this or despite it, the older Pendelfin pieces are becoming ever more scarce and collectible, with rarities such as Aunt Agatha and the Rabbit bookends commanding strong prices as collectors seek out the early pieces to complete their collections.

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