Pug Collectibles and Trinkets in the 1700 and 1800s

Pug collectibles and trinkets were plentiful in the 1700 and 1800s because at the time pugs were a popular dog breed having been introduced beginning in the seventeenth century into Europe from China. “Pugs at this time looked somewhat different than today. They had fewer facial wrinkles, longer legs, and clipped ears, a practice that was officially banned in England in 1895.”[1]

Pugs quickly became a favorite pet of the European upper class. That was partly because many people were drawn to the lovable whimsical creatures because of their amiability, trustworthiness, and fidelity. In fact, it was their fidelity that caused Freemason lodges throughout Europe to adopt them as their symbol as noted by the V&A museum:

“In 1738 Pope Clement XII issued a bull forbidding Catholics from becoming Freemasons, which prompted the Elector Clemens August of Cologne to found the ‘Mopsorden’, or Order of the Pug, two years later. An expose published in Amsterdam in 1745 confirmed the order as an organization for Roman Catholics who had been forbidden Freemasonry by the Papal bull. Unlike Masonic lodges it admitted women. Its popularity, and the dog’s natural charm, prompted manufacturers of luxury goods to make a wealth of pug-themed trinkets in the 1740s.”[2]  

Pug collectibles and trinkets - Lady of the Order of the Pug

“The Lady of the Order of the Pug.” Courtesy of the National Trust Collection.

It was not just Freemasons who loved pugs. Many people did. For instance, Eliza de Feuillide, cousin to Jane Austen, loved them so much she probably would have purchased many pug collectibles and trinkets had she not owned the adorable dogs. She noted her attachment to these sweet animals when she wrote to her cousin Phylly in December 1796:

“I once more thank you for your puggish intentions in my favor, and wish that you may be able to realize them, tho’ to say the truth I am already possessed of one of these bewitching animals, but as he is yet in a state of infancy, and has something like a weakness in one of his hind legs, it is uncertain whether his future accomplishments may answer my fond expectations, and I consequently shall joyfully receive as many more Pugs as you can procure for me – you would laugh to see me consulting my Doctor about my Dog, and administering Vapour Baths which he has prescribed for him.”[3]

Josephine de Beauharnais, wife to Napoleon Bonaparte, was another person who loved pugs. She had one named “Fortune” and although pugs are known for having mild temperaments, he was possessive of his mistress and hostile towards any man in her presences. Napoleon described to French playwright Antoine-Vincent Arnault how his interactions with the pug went and why he and Josephine got into a fight over Fortune on their wedding night:

“Do you see that gentleman: he is my rival. He was in possession of Madame’s bed when I married her. I wished to remove him: it was quite useless to think of it. I was told that I must either sleep elsewhere or consent to share my bed. That annoyed me considerably, but I had to make up my mind. I gave way. The favorite was less accommodating. I bear proofs on my legs of what I say.”[4]

One of the most important people at the Meissen porcelain factory where many pug collectibles and trinkets were produced was German modeler Johann Joachim Kändler. He had an affinity for pugs which was supposedly why he ensured that a lot of pug-related items were produced during his tenure and why the factory became known to produce porcelain pugs as a specialty. Among some of the porcelain treasures he modeled was the walking stick handle shown below. It was created between 1736 and 1740 from hard-paste porcelain mounted in gold with a harbor scene painted on it.

pug collectibles and trinkets

Walking stick handle. Courtesy of V&A Museum.

Other pug collectibles and trinkets that might find their way into someone’s home included the pug figures shown below that were also produced by Kändler. In this instance, he modeled three pugs. One was a pup and the largest of these porcelain pugs is about 7.1 inches high.

Two Meissen porcelain pug figurines by Johann Joachim Kändler. Courtesy of artnet.

Other pug figurines were also produced at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory and attributed to Kändler. For instance, the pug fashioned below was created in 1745. It is glazed and gilded and shows a pug seated on a purple pillow looking upward.

Pug figurine. Courtesy of RISD Museum.

Pug collectibles and trinkets were also produced by Charles Gouyne’s factory in London. He was a Huguenot born in Dieppe and a second-generation jeweler who operated at the Turk’s Head, Bennett Street, St. James. His brother was also a jeweler but operated in Paris. Gouyne’s London factory became well-known for producing scent bottles that they termed “toys.” One of his creations is the scent bottle and stopper below that he produced between 1749 and 1760. This 1.8 inch pug trinket is painted with enamels, has gilt metal mounts, and in gold lettering printed on the collar is the word “Fidelle.”

Scent bottle and opener. Courtesy of V&A Museum.

Snuff was highly popular in the 1700s and even women such as Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Madame Tussaud enjoyed it. To hold the precious pulverized form of tobacco containers were invented known as snuff boxes. These useful containers came in all shapes and sizes, and, of course, because of the pug’s popularity it was not surprising that a porcelain pug-shaped snuff box was soon produced.

It happened at a factory south of Paris in the village of Mennecy. There the Mennecy Porcelain Factory had been founded by François Barbin in 1749. According to the V&A Museum:

“The porcelain made at Mennecy is soft-paste and lacks the bright white body of true porcelains made in Asia and at Meissen. The colouring is subtle and characterised by a good range of pink tones and other colours which were used to great effect in the flower painting found on many Mennecy wares.”[5]

Like other porcelain factories, Mennecy wanted to get in one the pug craze. Therefore, one of the pug collectibles and trinkets that this factory produced in 1760 was snuff boxes, like the following one with a cover. The model for this object was said to be based loosely on the Meissen shaped pug.

pug collectibles and trinkets

Pug snuff box. Courtesy of V&A Museum.

 

Another snuff box that paid homage to pugs comes from the Meissen Porcelain Factory in 1760 and is shown below. This hard-paste porcelain object likely belonged to someone well-to-do as it was decorated with gold, silver, diamonds, and rubies. In addition, there are various painted various scenes of pugs on the exterior and when the lid is opened a sedate pug is shown lying on a pink pillow inside the lid.

pug collectibles and trinkets

Snuff box with pug on the inside of the lid. Courtesy of the Met Museum.

Even though pug collectibles and trinkets might include snuff boxes, not all snuff boxes were the same. For instance, the following small porcelain 2-inch snuff box/bonbonniere was manufactured sometime in the 1770s. It has a hinged cover and is in the shape of a pug head. Depicted with a bright pink tongue this pug trinket also was depicted with the common pug attributes of a black face and big eyes. The lid on the outside shows a woman in a pink dress holding a rifle and inside under the lid the same women is shown seated.

pug collectibles and trinkets - pug snuff box

Pug snuff box head. Courtesy of 1st dibs.

Another of the pug collectibles and trinkets that people could readily buy in the 1700s was the porcelain figure of a beloved pug owned by artist William Hogarth. His pug was named “Trump” and was originally modeled in terracotta by the French sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac. It was then produced for sale to the public using Roubilac’s original terracotta by Hogarth’s friend, Nicholas Sprimont, manager of the Chelsea porcelain factory.

The porcelain Trump was likely sold to Hogarth’s admirers. That was because it was well-known at the time how much the artist identified with Trump, despite Hogarth having owned several other pugs during his lifetime. Hogarth in fact thought so much of Trump that he produced a self-portrait with his dog in 1745. It prominently depicts the pug in the foreground, and according to Wikipedia:

“Hogarth’s biographer, Ronald Paulson, [noted that] the painting contains many visual puns, with the dog alluding to Hogarth’s own pugnaciousness; the allegorical fidelity of the dog to its master paralleling Hogarth’s artistic fidelity of presentation; and Hogarth’s portrait being (literally) supported by the English literary canon.”

Pug collectibles and trinkets - Hogarth's dog Trump

William Hogarth’s dog Trump. Courtesy of V&A Museum.

Other pug collectibles and trinkets from the 1700s and 1800s include various paintings of people with their pugs. For instance, there was the oil created in 1806 by Franciscus Joseph Octave van der Donckt that shows his niece, Sylvie de la Rue, with an adorable pug. Another oil on canvas depicts the sons of the Marquis de Béthune (Armand Louis II and Armand Louis Jean) playing with their pug in 1761. Lastly, there is a portrait of Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna of Russia by Louis-Michel van Loo from 1759 that show her favorite pug seated on her lap.

Franciscus Joseph Octave van der Donckt’s niece with a pug. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Pug collectibles and trinkets were more than just porcelain figures or oil paintings. Sometimes prints of pugs could be purchased. For example, in the mid to late 1700s, Alexander Bell produced a wood cut titled “Canis” that originally appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica. His print involved the arrangement of eleven dogs standing sideways on a single page with a pug being one of the dogs represented.

pug collectibles and trinkets - alexander bell print

“Canis” by Alexander Bell. Courtesy of the British Museum.

Another print with the title “Pug” shows a pug wearing a collar engraved with its owner’s name. The dog is watching a crouched cat that looks ready to pounce. The print was created by H.B. Chalon, an animal painter to the Duke and Duchess of York and engraved by an engraver to the Duke of York. First printed on 1 February 1806 it states:

“A Favorite Dog of Master Wm. Hy. West Betty Dedicated to the Friends of the Young Roscius by their much obliged humble Servant Hry. Barnard Chalon.”

Print titled “Pug.” Courtesy of the British Museum.

Other popular pug collectibles and trinkets were jewelry. For example, the following pug painting in miniature forms the centerpiece for a pendant created from heavy gauge sterling silver. The date of the piece is unknown. However, the enameled miniature shows details of a black-faced white pug that perhaps belonged to the original owner of this piece.

pug collectibles and trinkets - pendant

Pug pendant. Courtesy of 1st dibs.

Pug collectibles or trinkets also included other types of jewelry. One piece of jewelry with a pug image was the following cravat pin from 1882. It was painted by William Bishop Ford, a pupil of the miniaturist William Essex. In this case, the gold cravat pin has an enameled miniature of a wide-eyed pug that is set in gold and inscribed on the reverse side.

Pug cravat pin. Courtesy of the British Museum.

Pug collectibles and trinkets could also be useful. That was the case with the production of the pearlware jug shown below created around 1759. This soft-paste porcelain jug shows a gentleman wearing a wig topped with a tricorne and carrying a cane. To his right is a pug. The identity of the gentlemen on the jug is unclear although some people claim it is Samuel, first Lord Sandys. He was a British Whig politician who represented Worcester in the House of Commons from 1718 until 1743 and held numerous posts in the government of the United Kingdom that included Chancellor of the Exchequer, Leader of the House of Commons, and First Lord of Trade. The jug was produced at the Worcester Porcelain Factory with the painting accomplished by James Roger, an artist known to have painted other pieces at Worcester.

Pearlware jug with a pug. Courtesy of the British Museum.

Today, just like in the 1700s and 1800s, the adorable pug continues to fascinate people and just like in times past, people can still purchase pug collectibles and trinkets. Although pug snuff boxes may not be popular or wanted now, people can still demonstrate their pug pride by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a pug picture. Christmas can even be pug themed as Christmas trees today can be decorated with nothing but pug ornaments. Pug lovers can also find satisfaction by purchasing coffee cups with a pug picture or a pug-shaped handle. In fact, nearly anything you want with a pug image can be found including such things as pug keychains, pug masks, pug-shaped soaps, pug cookie cutters, pug dishtowels, pug birthday garland, and pug-shaped cakes.

References:

  • [1] G. Walton, Jane Austen’s Cousin: The Outlandish Countess de Feuillide (London: Pen and Sword History, 2021), p. 130.
  • [2]Handle,” V&A Museum, accessed June 1, 2020.
  • [3] D. Le Faye, Jane Austen’s ‘Outlandish Cousin’: The Life and Letters of Eliza de Feuillide (London: The British Library, 2002), p. 133.
  • [4] E. Ross, The Book of Noble Dogs (New York: Century Company, 1922), p. 94.
  • [5]Snuff-box and cover,” V&A Museum, accessed June 1, 2020,

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