PenDelfin is a company specializing in handcrafted and handpainted stoneware bunnies and figures based in Burnley, Lancashire, England. It had a very large fan-club (the PenDelfin Family Circle, closed in March 2013) which covered Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.
PenDelfin was started in the Pendle Hill area of Burnley. This area of England is where Jean Walmsley Heap (1921-2008) and Jeanie Todd (??-1974) first met at an exhibition of the Burnley Artist's Society. They were the founders of PenDelfin, the renowned rabbit family, born in the shadow of the legendary "Witches Hill" Pendle whose folk lore first inspired them. Jean and Jeanie became very close friends and in 1953 their combined talents resulted in the creation of the very first Pendelfin, a deep relief wall plaque. Their first PenDelfin rabbits were created as a hobby in Jeannie's garden hut, to produce gifts for their friends and family. Their enthusiasm had been fire and soon their hobby had grown into a full time vocation.
They each contributed a share in the "capital" (about five pounds) and would never then have believed that they had produced a line of Pendelfin collectible figurines that would be sought after worldwide. What once started as a hobby for making presents for family and friends, quickly gained worldwide fame. PenDelfin got the name from a famous hill near Burnley called Pendle Hill, which is famous for tales of witches and ghouls. As a result the first model produced by the company was named the 'Pendle Witch' and is created in a small wooden hut in the back garden of Jeannie Todd's house.
PenDelfin models are made in durable stone-based compound, an excellent medium for reproducing their superbly detailed modelling. They are hand painted in the finest quality artist's colours, changeless and fadeless in all normal temperatures.
Each rabbit figure is produced entirely by hand and is the work of skilled craftsmen. The painting by special trained artists is only one of the many processes needed to produce the perfect PenDelfin model.
It is a gradual process of shading, tinting, and highlighting, colour painting and decorating, before a final coat of varnish can be added and they can be boxed in their familiar turquoise and black boxes and distributed all over the world.
All the bunnies (designed by Heap and Roberts) were developed with specially thought out history and characters in mind, including a mother, father, youngsters, aunts, uncles and many others, especially those who were particularly musically oriented. The figurines also inspired bookends, as well as a whole village as a backdrop for displaying them. A particularly popular character created by Heap was called 'Little Thrifty', who first emerged in the Children's Corner of the Burnley Building Society and became a center of many stories meant to inspire children to save their money.
I recommend buying one of the collectors guides on Pendelfin figures on Amazon:
Below is the first ten years of Pendelfin production, from 1953 to 1963. Most are worth a considerable amount of money, hence these are probably the most collectable of Pendelfin items today.
|Wall plaque||The Pendle Witch||20.4cm||1953 - 1957|
|Figure||Tipsy Witch||11cm||1953 - 1959|
|Ornamental||Cauldron Witch||11cm||1953 - 1959|
|Wall plaque||Pixie House||20.4cm||1953 - 1958|
|Wall plaque||Old Meg Plaque||20cm||1953 - 1954|
|Wall Plaque||The fairy Shop (3D Picture)||40x20cm||1954 - 1958|
|Lamp||Rheingold Lamp||Unknown||1954 - 1958|
|Ornamental||Fairy Jardinière||13cm||1954 - 1958|
|Ornamental||Dragon Ring Candle Holders||10cm dia||1954 - 1958|
|Rabbit Family||Father Rabbit - Dungaree||20cm||1955 - 1960|
|Figure||Old Adam||12.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Figure||Desmond Duck||11cm||1955 - 1958|
|Figure||Daisy Duck||11cm||1955 - 1958|
|Figure||Bobbin Woman - only 2 made||11.5cm||1955 - 1958|
|Miniature A||Herald wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Scrooge wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Witch wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Phynnodderee wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Flying Witch wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||The Bellman wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Elf wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Toper wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Balloon Woman wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Miniature A||Standing Witch wall figure||7.5cm||1955 - 1956|
|Wall plaque||Shaggy Dog||12.5cm||1955 - 1958|
|Rabbit Family||Mother Rabbit - 4 versions||20cm||1956 - 1978|
|Wall plaque||Manx Kitten||9cm||1956 - 1958|
|Miniature B||Tom the Pipers Son||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Miniature B||Miss Muffet||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Miniature B||Little Bo Peep||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Miniature B||Mary Mary Quite Contrary||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Miniature B||Wee Willie Winkie||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Miniature B||Little Jack Horner||11.5cm||1956 - 1959|
|Rabbit Family||Robert||11.5cm||1956 - 1967|
|Rabbit Family||Midge (1,2 or 3 crumbs)||7.5cm||1956 - 1965|
|Rabbit Family||Margot||9cm||1956 - 1967|
|Figure||Tammy Puppy||7.5cm||1957 - 1987|
|Wall Figure||Romeo and Juliet||20cm||1957 - 1959|
|Ornamental||Rabbit book-ends||11.5cm||1958 - 1965|
|Rabbit Family||Snuggles||9cm||1958 -|
|Rabbit Family||Wakey||9cm||1958 - 2003|
|Rabbit Family||Cha Cha||7.5cm||1959 - 1961|
|Rabbit Family||Uncle Soames||20cm||1959 - 1985|
|Rabbit Family||Rocky||12.5cm||1959 - 1978|
|Rabbit Family||Father Rabbit - Kipper tie||20cm||1960 - 1970|
|Accessories||Model stand - Rabbit||24cm||1960 - 1967|
|Accessories||Model stand - Pendelfin||24cm||1960 - 1967|
|Rabbit Family||Lucy Pocket||10cm||1960 - 1967|
|Rabbit Family||Gussie||7.5cm||1960 - 1968|
|Rabbit Family||Shiner||10cm||1960 - 1967|
|Rabbit Family||Megan the Harp||10cm||1960 - 1967|
|Rabbit Family||Squeezy||8cm||1960 - 1967|
|Figure||Dog with Scarf + Beret||11cm||1960 - 1962|
|Accessories||Grandstand||35cm||1961 - 1969|
|Mouse Family||Mother Mouse (grey/brown)||11cm||1961 - 1966|
|Mouse Family||Father Mouse (grey/brown)||11cm||1961 - 1966|
|Mouse Family||Lollipop Mouse (grey/brown)||11cm||1961 - 1966|
|Figure||Cornish Prayer||10cm||1962 - 1965|
|Rabbit Family||Twins||10cm||1962 - 2003|
|Figure||Pooch||9cm||1962 - 1987|
|Rabbit Family||Aunt Agatha||20cm||1963 - 1965|
|Figure||Cyril the Squirrel||17.5 cm||1963 - 1965|
What's it worth? Take a look at this Pendelfin price guide: sold listings for a value indication.