Some Bunny to Love
The floofy bunny rabbit holds a special place in the hearts of children and adults alike, in almost every civilisation. And, it’s not just Bugs Bunny, the Easter Bunny, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the Mad March Hare inside Alice’s Wonderland that keep the love for these adorable little critters alive. Irish keep a rabbit foot in their pocket for good luck; South Americans and Egyptians have mythological rabbit gods; Ancient Chinese made rabbits the fourth sign of the zodiac, and there’s a Japanese myth about rabbits living on the Moon making mochi.
With such a great love-in for bunny rabbits (except for those pesky few million trying to take-over the lower South Island), it is unsurprising that brands have been pulling bunny rabbits out of imagination hats since the original Big Bang of consumerism. Contender for the most prolific product category showing off their bunny loving for the longest time has to be the fine china makers.
Perhaps the most famous being Royal Doulton’s Bunnykins. First released in 1934, Bunnykins tableware was actually illustrated by an Augustinian nun, Sister Mary Barbara Bailey - daughter of Royal Doulton’s then General Manager. The earliest pieces, signed "Barbara Vernon" (Sister Mary Barbara Bailey) and those up to 1950 when Sister Mary stopped producing drawings, are quite rare and highly prized. Bunnykins china was used by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret; making them the go-to gift for christening and birthday in middle-class English homes ever since.
Equally renowned Royal Winton’s Bunny’s Playtime was also released in the early 1930s (exact year unknown). Although founded in 1885, Royal Winton didn’t get on the socialites’ radar until 1928 with the launch of their first chintz pattern. Not long after, Queen Mary purchased a Winton tea set in chintz and the brand quickly become known as the Rolls Royce of Chintz. Once Bunny’s Playtime as added to the portfolio, Royal Winton’s standing as a prestigious brand was secured.
These days, we are just as likely to see models transformed into rabbits at Fashion Week, as toddlers cuddling cute little bunny soft toys. In these crazy uncertain times, it’s reassuring that some things never change.