A Brief History of Royal Doulton

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Royal Doulton Lady Jester HN1284, designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued 1928-1938. Size: 4.25”H. Currently retails for $5000.00

Royal Doulton’s roots stretch all the way back to 1815 when John Doulton became a partner with a widow named Martha Jones. Her late husband had originally founded Lambeth Pottery with the foreman of the pottery, John Watts. The new pottery operation began operating as ‘Jones, Watts, and Doulton’, but unlike today the company was best known for water filters, stoneware bottles, sewer pipes and chimney pots. By the mid-19th century, the company entered into the production of Decorative stoneware that rivaled the best available at the time.

It was John’s son Henry Doulton who expanded the company in 1871 to include a line of Art pottery with the opening of the now famous Lambeth pottery. The Lambeth pottery allowed students and designers from the local art school to experiment and produce new designs for the company. The new line of Art Pottery was a great success, the brilliant work of Artists such as, Eliza Simmance, Florence, Arthur and Hannah Barlow,George Tinworth, George Butler, and Mark Marshall put Doulton to the forefront of Art Pottery on an almost industrial level.

The company entered into the fine porcelain market in 1882 after purchasing Pinder, Bourne & Co. of Burslem, England. Under the direction of John Slater, the company pushed into a new market, production fine quality decorative porcelain. It wasn’t long before Doulton was winning honors at major international exhibitions for their lines of figurines, vases, character jugs and plates. This exposure in international markets brought Doulton great acclaim and the patronage of the Royal family, the company given the honor of using the world ” Royal” as an addition to the company name in 1901 by King Edward VII.

It was during this period that the company began production of what it’s most famous for today, their popular lines of decorative “Series Ware,” such as the “Gibson Girl” plates, circa 1901, “Dickens ware” pottery, plates and figurines in 1911, the “Shakespeare” series in 1914 and the “Robin Hood” series in 1914.

The most well-known of these are the “HN” numbered figurines which the company still issues today. Their very first was designated HN1 “Darling” in 1913, The “HN” prefix for these figurines stands for for Harry Nixon, the head artist in charge of decorating the figurines. Other well known artists who worked on the designs and decoration were George Tinworth, Authur Barlow and John Sparkes. The huge success of Royal Doulton’s figurines brought about other lines in later years, such as the “Nursery Rhyme” series in 1930 and the popular “Bunnykins” line in 1933. The company continues to produce new lines of collectibles every year and annually expanding the production of new pieces for the HN figurines and the “D” series Toby Mugs.

We are currently working on revamping our popular line of online price guides so you, our customers can find out “What’s it worth” for any of the thousands of Royal Doulton figurines, Toby’s and series ware with a couple of clicks of the mouse. We will be updating this page with links to these services as soon as we have them up and running.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers