Many of the objects we hold in our museums were once collected by individuals with a keen interest in a topic. But what drives collectors to collect?
In this guest post, Eiffion Ashdown of our Museum Mentors group describes his passion for English bulldog memorabilia. What has he learned along the way?
Hi readers. My name is Eiffion Ashdown I’m a resident of Brighton, a member of the Museum Mentors’ art group. I’m al local hobby collector that dreams of a real museum and here’s another blog article so off we go!
Let’s start at the beginning — it always helps lol — a little about my personal challenges. I am diagnosed with a complex personality disorder, OCD & magical thinking, the low times can be all consuming. I have a care plan and team behind me, this consists of a psychiatrist a doctor a CPN, and community support like Brighton museums art group and the staff that run it.
My dream of one day running a real museum comes in part from attending Brighton Museum on a regular basis, imagining my own bulldogs on display like the objects exhibited in the Willets Gallery ….no offence here, it is a beautiful collection!
Building a collection
I can’t tell you how many hours its taken, to create a world beating bulldog memorabilia collection. Some might think the collection has taken many decades to create, yet I created this all in less than 10 years.
The collection consists of English bulldog memorabilia going back over 200 years. For those that might worry, the collection is family friendly. There is no connection or affiliation to bullbaiting, this was banned way back in 1835.
So before I talk to you about one day wishing as a hobby collector to have a real museum I do have collectibulldogs.com This is the world’s first English bulldog memorabilia research and blogging website.
Out of nearly 2,000,000,000 websites that are currently live, Collectibulldogs is the only website of its kind and that’s in the world. The website was created in 2015 has gone for seven years and 4.4 million visitors have passed through the website.
Thinking that I can just create a museum out of thin air is out of the question and my title ‘Local hobby collector dreams of a real museum’ does not do justice to the amount of work, effort, time and money it’s taken to create this collection.
Bragging is for others, I aim to be humble. Why collect you might ask?
Most of all – to create a lasting legacy.
I wish to leave my daughters something one day.
I didn’t realise it would teach me so much, not just about bulldogs but about the world around us too.
Collectibulldogs.com has taken me around the world from my own country of the U. managing different sellers as I collected and became a consultant buyer for a lady living in Hawaii!
The dream job! I was put in charge of sourcing buying and researching bulldog memorabilia, antiques and collectibles for this one special buyer. This relationship sometimes went both ways and I’d get a surprise offering in the post.
The picture you see is a beautiful crystal bulldog made by a top American company and normally created and presented as gifts and awards. My bulldog cost about four hundred dollars, there is not another like it.
You can find English bulldog memorabilia in our collection from many countries with a few that really pushed out bulldog history in object form. Some countries are older than others and this would affect the social demographic. An example would be the youth of American history, yet its love for the bulldog can be found everywhere. You can check out this link https://www.collectibulldogs.com/mack-trucks-americas-past-american-antiques-special/ for great bulldog vintage and antique related memorabilia from the USA.
English bulldog collectors are dwindling in numbers and bulldog memorabilia becomes even more expensive with many pieces out of the reach of collectors. If you wish to stay in touch then my Facebook page contains hundreds if not thousands of posts, you can and meet over seven thousand other interested people that support collectibulldogs.
I have 11 years’ experience of loving and caring for my own live bulldogs as well as all the memorabilia and all the antiques related to them. As a chap with a huge life passion, I think this is one of the biggest and best of any breeds. If anyone wanted to start a collection feel free to join in and enjoy all that collecting brings. I am so glad that I chose the English bulldog as my collection theme. Maybe you have another passion…. jewellery, teapots, clocks, records, anything to do with cats? What would you collect?
Learning about each part of the collection has been either a joy or a headache, either way it has helped me to add interesting and creative content to my website blogs. I hope that readers may learn and enjoy as I have. I hope you can share in the joy from this past time passion of yesteryear.
Yearning for learning!
In 2017 I participated in a display with other art group members. This was, I understand, the world’s first ever bulldog exhibition / display. It lasted seven months and gave me the idea that Brighton wouldn’t be worse off if it had a dedicated memorabilia photo museum… maybe the first in the country?
If you don’t mind, I would like to talk a little more about what I have learned. As a hobby collector of English bulldog memorabilia, my approach and research often delves deep…. please understand, the 11 years of just researching this niche has given me so much.
At times I might say it’s given me a structure and a purpose in life.
The collection I feel is a great reflection of diversity and different cultures. There are items from England, Denmark, Germany and Japan. 80% of the worlds English bulldog memorabilia has travelled vast distances around the globe. Some of the collection pieces are post World War II German. Japanese pieces are hugely admired and currently highly collectible.
The style colour and stance of a ceramic bulldog can tell you a lot about where it comes from and who made it. Identifying a piece – this does take a little bit of skill and at times isn’t 100%, I mostly get it right, checking double checking and triple checking various sources gives as much accuracy as anyone can hope for. By looking at the finished colour most of the time in the dog’s face, I can reveal a lot about an item and its past.
When you learn about a bulldog piece, you’re learning about history too. I notice which pottery house it was made in. I research questions such as:
- What was going on during the date that it was made?
- Where it was made?
- Is there more I can discover about the village/town/city?
From Staffordshire to Kuala Lumpur
Royal Doulton in England, Royal Copenhagen in Denmark. These are just two factories of ceramics that I could research for days and days on end. The same with the Nymphenburg factory in Germany. German ceramics have fascinated me. I have found thousands of production outlets in Germany alone.
England itself has over 1000 different pottery houses. In the 1800s a lot of these were in Staffordshire and Derbyshire. You can find out much more about the most famous ceramic production houses here, I hope you enjoy dipping in and out of the many blogs on Collectibulldogs.
Pottery houses are just one part of the big bulldog collection story as it stands there are around 15 subsections in the collection consisting of nearly 5000 pieces. Ranging from, ceramics, metals, art and illustrations. Additionally featuring an active bulldog club, the antiques and pieces go back in history as far as Queen Victoria, a few predating the Victorian era.
I hope one day that my dream of owning or running a bulldog museum does come true, this feels more than just a pipe dream. One day it will be amazing for the country as a whole to have a new kind of community-based project. A project developed by one person (with a fair bit of support love & kindness in the wings – big respect here to my family friends and followers) for the whole world to see….
…..and that’s why I wish to own my own bulldog museum.
A big thank you
Collectibulldogs would like to thank Brighton Museum for this content creation opportunity. I love blogging and it always feels more special when I’m guesting for my own local and city-wide favourite museum. Myself and my fellow Museum Mentor client’s (add a project related link here) are lucky as we get to walk the museum each week and millions more only see the website.
Let me finally finish by saying if you visit Brighton do not think for a minute that Brighton Museum is old fashioned or emulates the Pavilion as this cannot be further from the truth, with wheelchair access to the first floor and looking down on what could have been the Prince Regent’s tennis court, this museum has a bit of everything for everyone. Brighton Museum has great installations and is a very interesting building not just a place to escape the rain so book your tickets (in advance really helps this charitable organisation). When you visit our beautiful city, you can just get your sticker and enjoy a visual feast.