A quirky West Cornwall family business selling one-of-a-kind collectibles and artwork has sourced a Disney doll worth over £1,000.
The doll is a handmade figurine of Disney’s Belle, Beauty and the Beast, and is one of only 500 ever made worldwide.
It is whipped up at Morrab Studio, an art, gift and collectibles shop co-run by Simon Laity and his brother David. The independent shop, with its dozens of unique gifts, has been a feature of Penzance since its founding by their father John in 1950.
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Made by German plush company Steiff, the doll, Simon explained, is incredibly valuable to collectors and was commissioned – alongside a second – to be added to the shop’s eclectic collection.
Simon said: “We have this one, and another due. It is made of wool felt, and her dress too. There are many small pieces attached and adorned, such as the white beads of the dress.
“The little felt gloves too, and it’s hand painted. This is model 114.
Due to the item’s rarity, it’s on sale for £1,199, down from its usual retail price of £1,395. While that might seem steep, Simon said some collectibles like this are well worth the price.
“It comes from childhood,” he said. “Each child gets dolls or teddy bears depending on what they like, and for some people the interest grows. Where some people go and get into football, or get into looking pretty and wearing dresses, some people get into collecting and their childhood never leaves them.
He explained that a life-size figurine of Paddington Bear, which was about the size of a person, had been captured.
“People were just amazed at its quality and realism,” Simon continued. “Some people love to collect. The collectibles market has plateaued a bit, but there’s always something. If it’s good, people will crave it.
“We all collect in our family. If I see something that I find adorable, I’ll get it. I don’t necessarily collect everything in a set, I pick the cherries – I have mortgages to pay and such.
He did, however, say that several pieces from his shop were on his own wish list if he ever had the money to spend.
The store his father opened in 1950 began life primarily as a family pottery store.
Simon said he used to help out at the store in his early years for pocket money, where they sold pottery fired by his father John in their kiln.
From there, John Laity then bought fine pottery in Derby, Worcester and further afield to sell to collectors.
In the 1970s, Simon recalls, collectibles became popular with the growing popularity of pop culture-themed figurines and statuettes.
“It’s a job to say when exactly it started,” he says, “because it’s been a gradual change. But my father continued to sell photos and prints back then, although we don’t now.
“The big phase of collectibles is over, mainly, and the same goes for tableware. Now we mainly make beautiful gifts.
When asked what kind of beautiful gifts he would point to, Simon replied, “My God, we make beautifully crafted planes made from kiln-dried mahogany, glassware, throws, blankets, scarves. Although it has been difficult recently as all companies have found it and the virus has not helped. We went online as many have.
As well as the Belle doll, Simon just got his hands on a new limited-edition bear dressed as James Bond, released as part of the 60th anniversary of the first film.
You can visit the shop here or drop by in person to take a look at the various wonders they have in stock.
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