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(William) Billy Waters


Stock No: 001849


Height: 7.5 Inches / 19 cm


Reference: A Potted History (Henry Willett’s Ceramic Chronicle of Britain) Stella Beddoe, Page 182, Fig 883


A very rare and fine pearlware figure of the American William (Billy) Waters, (King of the Beggars) standing on a stepped rectangular base, holding a fiddle in his left hand, one foot on the road and his peg leg raised in the air, wearing a plumed hat, jacket, neckerchief, waistcoat, and trousers. The source of this figure is an illustrated music front entitled ‘A portrait of Billy Waters, a progenitor of promenade concerts, he died about twenty years ago, by W.H. Montgomery.’ This sheet was published circa 1840 as the production was revived many times during the Victorian era. It will be noted that even though Billy Waters was a real person, he was characterised in Pierce Egan’s book Tom and Jerry: life in London or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorne Esq. and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom in their rambles and sprees through the Metropolis, which was in turn produced into an opera in three acts, performed at the Adelphi Theatre in 1821. The irony is that whilst the production was a huge success, running for over 300 nights, the real Billy Waters died in poverty. This figure has survived the last two hundred years remarkably well, despite its obvious vulnerability. The only damage repair I can detect is a professional restoration to the lower right arm and bow, and a minor surface chip to the column base. There is no other damage, repairs, or restoration. Made in Staffordshire, England c1823.