Royal Doulton’s early Child figures.

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L-R Darling HN1319 and HN1.

The prominence and popularity of Darling HN1 has proved over the last century that child figures are among the most popular Doulton have produced as part of the HN figure collection. Darling was sculpted by the great Charles Vyse and as was often the case in the first half of the twentieth Century, Charles Noke, Doulton’s art director approached prominent sculptors of the time to provide models for possible inclusion in the collection.  In the first decade of production of the HN collection Darling remained a clear favourite of collectors, it is therefore no surprise to see that many other child studies followed this iconic sculpture. These first studies remained somewhat sculptural, just like Darling, who was succeeded by a line-up of other famous faces including Dolly, Shy Anne HN60, the Coquette HN20 and a handful of Noke’s own studies such as the very rare Boy on Crocodile HN373.

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Shy Anne HN65.

It was not until the 1920’s when a former apprentice modeller from their Lambeth factory, one Leslie Harradine, began to submit models to Doulton in Burslem that the typical figures we all now know as child figures began to emerge.

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A group of Harradine children.

Harradine revolutionised the collection from the very start, introducing much slicker lines and also a smaller size in figure.

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A group of early 1930’s child figures.

Classic Harradine child figures such as Betty HN1404 and Pinkie HN1552 are easily recognisable not only as Doulton but also as the work of Harradine. His ability to interpret moods and trends was unrivalled at the time and I am sure all other factories would have been envious of Doulton’s great in house talent. Ironically no visit by Harradine was ever recorded to Burslem, instead former employees recall the monthly arrival of a parcel from Harradine and the stir it would cause in the factory. It is a tribute to Harradine that so few prototypes from his time as lead figure sculptor have turned up, indicating that the majority of his models actually went into production.

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Three deco children: Monica, Pinkie and Rosebud.

Harradine’s ability and versatility brought us a long line of youthful figures including Rose HN1368 and Marie HN1370, an aptly named pairing available in several complimentary colourings, Bo-Peep HN1810 and Cissie HN1808 another pairing and other popular figures such as Diana HN1716, Lily HN1798 and Nana HN.

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Rose and Marie in complimentary colourways.

Yet, Harradine did not restrain himself to small size figures and his large size Estelle is still highly sought after by collectors the world over.

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Estelle HN1566.

One of the last child study series modelled by Harradine and introduced by Doulton was a set of Nursery Rhyme figures. Harradine, together with a then new but equally talented modeller, Peggy Davies, were set the task of interpreting key figures from popular children’s nursery rhymes for this set. I am sure you will all agree the effectiveness of these models secures both artists reputations as expert modellers as each study is the embodiment of the verse it represents.

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Four nursery rhymes characters including a prototype of Little Miss Muffit.

The fact that several of these key figures within the HN collection remained in production until close to the millennium confirms the popular demand the world over for child studies, something that Doulton to this day continues to ‘feed’ with the introduction of new child studies. As seems to always be the case imitation should be construed as flattery and so to finish, here is a version of Darling made by another Staffordshire pottery next to a Doulton version from 1934 – the quality of the Doulton model leaps out.

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Doulton’s Darling HN1319 together with an inferior copy

 

Royal Doulton’s Blue Children ware

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Even as I write this I am aware of the misnomer surrounding the title of this piece, as Doulton never referred to this series as such, but rather ‘Blue Figures’ was the title given. The label Blue Children refers to the popularity among collectors for pieces of this ware featuring children and they re-christened it.

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Traditionally blue is the most popular colour for porcelain decoration and follows an ancient Chinese tradition that still pervades today. The scenes featuring children and also young women in various backdrops would have been purchased outside of Doulton and there are examples of what we know as Doulton scenes appearing on other manufacturers items from around this time. One such example is the factory Royal Bayreuth, whose wares bear an uncanny likeness to its Doulton counterparts.

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However, what sets the Doulton series apart from its competitors is of course the quality. Doulton’s printing process allowed for finer detail and certainly subtler colour variations, as well as added detail by Doulton artists specifically to the faces of the characters and also the often detailed backgrounds.

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A precise date of introduction of this ware is not known, although late Victorian is a time I think correct given the elaborate Victorian shapes of many of the earlier pieces, so ca. 1890. Signatures on these early pieces are also to be expected with J. Hughes being a common one. As was typical when the so-called ‘print and tint’ process was used, Doulton’s major artists used a pseudonym. Thus J. Hughes was in fact John Hugh Plant. Similar examples exist for other artists including E. Percy which is recorded as being either Edwin Wood or Percy Curnock.

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The end of the Victorian age, when Queen Victoria died in 1902 brought a change in popular tastes, which meant that the elaborate rococo shapes used for Blue Children pieces became much more simplified and the gilding too was often reduced to simply a gilded edging. Having said that, the shapes of vases etc…that were used are what I class as typically Doulton, in that they were not limited to this series but were used in seriesware production and also the top-end hand-painted wares.

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Displays of Blue Children cannot fail to catch the eye and there are some fantastic collections around the world. With a never ending variety of shapes collectors are well catered for! Here is a display made by a friend in South Africa, notice the great shapes, I particularly like the square vases!

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Collecting Royal Doulton’s Maid figures

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Thinking of collecting themes, one which is often overlooked is that of Doulton’s group of maids, be they serving girls and women, or alternatively the name once given to young girls.

Of course there are a handful of figures with ‘maid’ in their names such as Sweet Maid HN1505 a classic, bonneted Doulton lady or Sweet Maid HN2092 a bride on her wedding day.

This group of maid figures, however, do not have ‘maid’ in their names, rather they are named after typical serving girl names such as Jane or the French Suzette.

The figure Dorcas appears to be modelled on an advert for Dorcas towels from the 1930’s and also derives her name thus.

Of course arranging figures by colour is always popular. Here are three figures I think go well together.

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Another figure that is based upon an illustration is this version of Spring Flowers. For some unknown reason this colourway, which is directly based upon a Wheatley ‘Cries of London’ illustration was not introduced until 1940 whereas the original 1937 version is an entirely made up Doulton colourway. Personally I prefer the red and green version.

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Perhaps you arrange your collection in a particular way? If so join our Facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’ to share and also see what other collectors collect and cherish!

Doulton’s deco nudes

The liberating period of the 1920’s to 1930’s often seems incongruous to non-Doulton figure collectors who associate ladies in ballgowns with Doulton figures, but those in the know, they recall that there are a small group of nude figures produced in the art deco period that encapsulate that movement perfectly. All the figures contained in this small band of lady figures were the brain child of Leslie Harradine, Doulton’s then principal figure modeler.

As if to prove their own artistic credentials, Doulton introduced over a 10 year period several nude studies that confirmed their artistic prowess. The first we must all know was Harradine’s The Bather, modeled on this contemporary advert.

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There were six different versions of this popular model, with this colourway proving to be the most popular.

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The Bather HN687.

In the succeeding years there was a second version of The Bather introduced, shown here.

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The Bather HN773 (second version).

By the mid to late 1930’s tastes had changed and prudery was once more on the rise, and so a last version of this figure was introduced wearing a bathing suit, so reflecting the continued interest in lidos.

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The Bather HN1708.

However, there were other nude figures introduced at this time including Siesta shown here reclining on her day sofa.

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Siesta HN1305.

Other partially clad figures also belong to this group of deco delights such as Carnival, Circe and Susanna, a scalled down version of Circe.

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Carnival HN1260.

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Circe HN1249.

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Susanna HN1233.

Harradine continued, however, to experiment and push boundaries in figure production. He achieved much acclaim at the British Industries Fair of 1935 for his then two latest productions, The Coming of Spring and Celia. Particular attention was lavished upon the Coming of Spring shown here.

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The Coming of Spring HN1722.

We cannot mention deco nudes without also mentioning that small group of figures commissioned by Noke from Richard Garbe the eminent sculptor. I have in my own collection his Spring HN1774 produced in a limited edition of 100.

Yet, Harradine as Doulton’s leading modeler continued to produce nude figures up until the late 1930’s with figures such as Dawn and The Awakening.

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Dawn HN1858 (without headdress)

There were also a slew of scantily clad beauties such as Negligée and Lido Lady as well as a few child studies such as Blue Bird.

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The rare Blue Bird HN1280.

In recent decades there have been new nude introductions, not least in 2000 when Doulton themselves re-modelled four of Harradines most popular figures including The Bather (first version).

 

 

Doulton goes Dutch!

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In the first three decades of the 20th Century there was a real vogue for all things Dutch! No one today can quite explain this phenomenon but it reached all parts of British life with adverts featuring people in Dutch dress to the famous London store Liberty of London selling Dutch inspired gift ware. My own explanation is that it was perhaps that the traditions in a Holland were still so strong whereas they had been lost in many other European countries by this point in time.

Nevertheless, Doulton were certainly on this band wagon creating their famous seriesware pattern Dutch Harlem, a variation if which was even made specifically for Libertys!

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A miniature tyg in Dutch Harlem.

Equally charming are the two seriesware plates at the top of the page, with a deco Doulton figure named Derrick also in Dutch dress.

Doulton’s figure range contained a handful of Dutch figures, all the inspiration of Doulton’s famous modeller Leslie Harradine and all dating to the 1930’s.

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Here are Gretchen and Annette.

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And here is a colourway of Gretchen from 1930.

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A child group entitled Willy-Won’t-He was also introduced in 1933.

Other Doulton wares featured Dutch scenes such as this rustic Holbein ware vase painted with a windmill scene.

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A rare Holbein vase ca. 1900.

This vogue for all things Dutch seems to have stopped at the end if the 1930’s but these charming pieces serve to remind us of these halcyon days.

Harry Simeon – a unique Lambeth artist

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Simeon was the son of a monumental mason, which perhaps explains his everlasting interest in sculpture. Simeon moved from Huddersfield to London in 1896 when he started work at Doulton in Lambeth and also the year he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.

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Simeon’s versatility cannot be denied when one looks at the variety of Lambeth wares he produced. Naturally there were many hand designed vases, but there were also late edition vases made between 1910 and 1925, as well as endearing Toby wares that he modelled that we’re introduced in 1925.

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When one considers the wares with which his is now associated it is hard to believe that he criticised his own talent, describing it once as overly fussy and preferring the artistry of Mark Marshall’s often simplistic designs.

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Joseph Mott, Lambeth’s art director in the early 20th Century had a particular interest in pottery of ages gone especially medieval pottery, encouraging Simeon to produce wares in this vein and also pots suitable for the many glaze effects trialled by Mott in the early part of the 20th Century.
Up until the end of Simeon’s association with Doulton in 1936, his style remained versatile, producing in the 1920’s designs for the Persian ware range and also a myriad of slip ware pieces in a colourful pallet.

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His signature changed early on from a simple H.S. to his usual monogram pictured in the Doulton reference books.

Doulton’s Persianware Pt. 2

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This second look at Doulton’s Persianware is solely focused on seriesware. There are three variations of this ware, A, B and C. The first designs were introduced around 1912 with a white background. This would be replaced in 1917 with a blue background.

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This pattern of course has a special backstamp as shown here.

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Typically of Doulton’s seriesware unusual items turn up from time to time. Only yesterday I saw a hat pin stand in this pattern. Other items that have turned up range from usual Doulton style vases to dressing table sets to tea sets.

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