Royal Doulton was an English manufacturer of ceramics and porcelain. Founded in 1815, the company originally operated in London, however it later moved to “The Potteries” area in Stoke-on-Trent. Its product range includes tableware, cookware, giftware, glassware, and figurines.
The Royal Doulton Company was founded in an impressive Art Deco inspired works in Lambeth, London, by John Doulton, Martha Jones and John Watts. The name Doulton was officially introduced in 1853. Initially, the Royal Doulton factory specialised in stoneware, which included salt-glaze sewer pipes and decorative bottles.
John Doulton’s son Henry assisted in launching an art-pottery studio designed in 1871. The studio, also situated on the Lambeth site, attracted ceramic artists and designers from the Lambeth School of Art, including George Tinworth and the Barlow family (Florence, Hannah, and Arthur).
In 1882, Doulton bought a small factory from Pinder, Bourne & Co, at Nile Street in Burslem, Staffordshire, which placed Doulton in the region known as The Potteries. Stoke-on-Trent is still considered the home of the pottery industry today.
In 1887, Royal Doulton received an important commission: Doulton created and donated an altarpiece, pulpit and font to the newly constructed St. Alban’s Church in Copenhagen. Each item was executed in terracotta and decorated with glazed designs by Tinoworth.
The appointment of John Slater as artistic director around this time is evident in Doulton’s output: figurines, character jugs and other decorative ceramics came to the fore, many of which were designed by Leslie Harradine.
In 1901, King Edward VII sold the Royal Warrant to the factory, allowing the business to operate under the name Royal Doulton, which forced them to adopt new methods of marking their output.
In 1956, due to new clean air regulations, the Lambeth factory closed. Work was transferred to The Potteries.
Royal Doulton is a promising and potentially propitious area for collectors. A sizeable range of beautiful items exists, and a large collection may still be built up without investing large sums of money.
Rarity v enjoyment
Although it is the rarest items that are likely to become the most valuable, in order to own them in the first place, you will probably have to shell out a considerable amount of your hard earned cash. Once you have purchased the scarcest examples of Royal Doulton, it is extremely unlikely that you will ever use the items in your collection. Yes, you will likely take great pleasure in owning them, but everyday or even special-occasion usage is out of the question.
Alternatively, you can collect porcelain and pottery items that are more common and therefore, while being less valuable, easier to replace and fun to use.
In the long term, a mixed collection comprising a handful of extremely desirable items and many more everyday items is advisable. A collection based on beauty and design – on what you like – that is at once admirable and utilitarian is what most collectors attempt to achieve.
Royal Doulton wares very rarely command anything in excess of three figures, yet boast a great deal of eye-appeal. Both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods are popular among collectors.
For a reasonable amount you can buy an object of beauty that is well made, robust, in adequate supply, and that will give great pleasure. If you want the cream of the Hannah Barlows, the Mark Marshalls and the Frank Butlers, you will be expected to shell out hundreds or thousands, but there are many attractive, signed vases and other objects available for much less.
The main decorative output of the Doulton Lambeth factories was vases, but other items made in reasonable quantities were jugs, bowls, flasks, ash-trays, teapots and occasionally chamber pots.
Examples of Royal Douton can be found at auction, antiques fairs, in store and online. Many collectors enjoy the process of hunting for specific pieces, others prefer to buy from trusted sellers online.
Many of the Doulton artists worked there for long periods and they appear to have been very content in their employment; thirty, forty or even fifty years does not appear to be an exceptional length of service. Therefore a large number of wares is available by individual artists.
It is possible to buy a perfect signed piece for about £50 to £100. A fascinating collection can be put together without a major investment. As only one Doulton Stoneware artist was ever allowed to sign the surface of his work, the incised monograms under the base of all the items often require a lot of deciphering and research to ascertain who actually threw the piece; and the knowledge of vendors and their agents is sometimes limited. The joy of finding an item of great beauty, researching it, attributing it, and discovering that it is by one of the leading Doulton ceramic artists, gives great satisfaction.
Royal Doulton produced a dearth of characterful Toby jugs. A comprehensive list can be found here: http://doultonpriceguide.com/royal-doulton-character-and-toby-jugs-starting-with-a/
Back and base stamps
An excellent resource for collectors of Royal Doulton: http://www.chinafinders.com.au/datinglambeth.asp
A Royal Doulton stoneware vase by Mark V Marshall sold for $9,600 at Sotheby’s in January 2001.
A large Royal Doulton Series ware two-handled vase sold for £6,600 at Lyon and Turnbull in July 2006.
Two Royal Doulton fox figures sold for $3,250 at Skinner in July 2008.
Three Royal Doulton pig dishes sold for $3,000 at Skinner in July 2008.
A Royal Doulton Greta Garbo mask sold for $1,000 at Skinner in October 2009.
General price guide
A pair of Royal Doulton whisky jugs sold for $800 at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in September 2005.
A Royal Doulton Mephistopheles character jug sold for $700 at DuMouchelles in January 2007.
A Royal Doulton Tapestry dinner set sold for $75 at Premier Auction Galleries in May 2013.
An Andrew Wyeth signed Royal Doulton punch bowl sold for $80 in May 2013.
A Royal Doulton porcelain pitcher sold for $550 at Leslie Hindeman Auctioneers in April 2013.
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