Thanks, Jean: A Look Back At 51 Years of PenDelfin


The end of October brought the sad news that the founder of PenDelfin, Jean Walmsley Heap, had died aged 87. Jean started out as an illustrator of children's books before founding Burnley-based PenDelfin with her friend Jeannie Todd in 1953. In this newsletter, I would like to look at some of her finest work.

Jean's PenDelfin designs were prolific and varied. Her very first piece was the Pendle Witch plaque - quickly followed by the Fairy Shop Plaque, pictured below. I have also included a few pictures of some other early designs.

PenDelfin Fiary Shop Plaque PenDelfin Miniature A Phynnodderee Plaque PenDelfin Rheingold Lamp
Pictured (L-R): Fairy Shop Plaque c1954-1958, Miniature A Plaque Phynnodderee c1955-1956 and Rheingold Lamp with Wooden Base c1954-1956.

As the pictures above show, PenDelfin's early output was far more varied in character than it became in later years. The reason for this was simple; the commercial success of the original rabbit range was so great that the demand it created dwarfed that for all of the other wares.

For Jean and the rest of the original PenDelfin team, it was a case of rabbits or bust.

Jean embraced the challenge fully and the next few decades bore witness to an ever-expanding and very successful family of PenDelfin rabbits, each with its own carefully modelled character and back-story.

Here are a few examples of the characters that have emerged over the years - from the 1950s through to the late 1990s. PenDelfin became part of the Collectables group in 2004, ending 51 years of independent existence.

PenDelfin Aunt Agatha PenDelfin Uncle Soames Pleated Skirt Margot PenDelfin Dodger Gallery Plaque PenDelfin Christmas Scene
Pictured (L-R): Aunt Agatha c1963-1965, Uncle Soames c1959-1985, Margot with Pleated Skirt c1956-1957, Dodger Gallery Series Plaque c1968-1971 PenDelfin Christmas Scene Limited Edition of 2000 c1985-1986.

Regards,

Perfect Pieces

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