Murder and Mayhem in Miniature: The Lurid Side of Staffordshire Figurines

Ben Marks of Collector's Weekly says, "Recently, in the course of building a new family for Figurines, staff writer Hunter Oatman-Stanford learned that the ceramic pieces coming out of Staffordshire from 1780 until 1840 often featured unsettling depictions of the crimes and scandals of the day. Inspired by this weird corner of ceramics history, Hunter interviewed author Myrna Schkolne for an article called "Murder and Mayhem in Miniature: The Lurid Side of Staffordshire Figurines," which we published today."

Here's an excerpt about a series of figurines based on the Red Barn Murder of 1827:

The Red Barn Murder is the story of Maria Marten, a young girl of a rather fallen reputation, who was killed by her boyfriend, William Corder. Corder was a local farmer's son, and Maria was planning to run off with him and get married. She had already borne a child to him, in fact, I think she'd already given birth to a couple of illegitimate children by different men. They planned to meet at the door of a red barn on his farm, and after that night, Maria was never seen again.

Meanwhile, Corder left the area and claimed to be living with Maria. He ran an ad in his new local newspaper, looking for a wife, and a bunch of women replied and he married one. Back in their village, Maria Marten's stepmother had a dream where she believed that Maria was buried beneath the floor of the Red Barn. So she urged and urged her husband, until he went and dug up the floor. And of course, there he found his daughter.

As a result, the police tracked down Corder, who was now married, and he went on trial and, inevitably, he was sentenced and hanged. It was huge event. Souvenir seekers picked apart that red barn bit by bit.

It's estimated that 10,000 people attended the public execution at the end of which, in the manner of those times, the body was cut down. The chest muscles were cut open and laid back and the public filed past and examined his body and organs. The hangman claimed the rope as his due right, and he sold it off at a huge amount per inch. The surgeon who dissected Corder claimed his scalp as his due right, and the skeleton went off to the World Royal College of Surgeons.

Murder and Mayhem in Miniature: The Lurid Side of Staffordshire Figurines