Antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at Royal Doulton figures...
This weekend is Mother’s Day. It’s a time to think of the perfect gift, or simply spend time with your mum, if you’re lucky enough to still have her around. One of the girls on my team at the antiques centre always buys a Royal Doulton lady for her mothers’ collection. And recently we had two fine figures in stock.
Doulton, eternally popular with collectors, has managed to stay at the forefront of ceramics production for nearly 200 years and long may that continue.
They are truly a giant amongst ceramic manufacturers and over the years it has added to its portfolio through acquiring many other well known names like Royal Albert, Minton & Beswick.
Doulton was founded in 1815 in Vauxhall, London by John Doulton.
In the 1850s, the factory moved to Lambeth on the banks of the River Thames.
Later, in 1877, they also opened a factory in the heartland of the potteries, Staffordshire. In 1902 they became Royal Doulton and under the directorship of Sir Henry and his successors, Royal Doulton has manufactured every kind of ceramic from character jugs to table ware.
Despite their wide range of products, Royal Doulton is best known for its figures. These were developed almost 90 years ago by Doulton’s art director, Charles Noke.
As early as 1893, he produced The Jester, Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Catherine figures which were originally manufactured in very small numbers.
However, it was not until 1930 that the now world famous HN (named after Harry Nixon, the head of figure painting) collection was introduced with the input of sculptors Charles Vyse and Phoebe Stabler, as well as Noke himself.
This innovative collection was launched during a visit by Queen Mary and George V who were reportedly much taken with the figures and apparently it was Queen Mary who christened the Bedtime figure, “Darling”.
Darling was HN1 and the numbering system is still in place today.
The subjects for these figures were incredibly diverse, but pretty female figures and animal figures were always popular and despite the arrival and departure of different modellers, Doulton continues to produce figures with a lasting appeal.