A table of figures of which only a fraction were eventually produced.
Prototypes and colourways have been the subject of previous articles, but I thought you all might like to see these few pictures I have come across of figure evaluation events. Typically these occurred in the US and Canada during the 1960’s-80’s.
Another display featuring a wonderful red colourway of Sweet Seventeen that turned up at the Doulton museum sale in London.
At first security at such events appears to have been lax with figures ‘escaping’ during their travels, but as time went on Doulton began to appreciate what value these survey pieces had and storage even at the factory improved greatly. Indeed, Doulton ‘sat’ on prototypes for many years, sometimes decades as with the figure Elizabeth HN2465 from 1970 that was only out into production in 1990 or the handful of Mary Nicoll ladies such as Lesley that appeared many years after their original production. You can see some of these figures in the pictures shown here on this page.
A young collector casts their vote for their favourites.
The majority of prototypes that turn up appear to be from the 1940’s onwards, indicating that the majority of models produced before this time were put into production – the length of production indicating popularity. Yet, earlier prototypes do turn up and whilst I have heard people say that all Harradine’s models went into production, this is not the case as even his models faced heavy scrutiny after 1940 and began not to go into production but would face market surveys.
Not the best illustration but a lovely colourway of a favourite prototype by Mary Nicoll from 1971, titled ‘Smith minor’ right at the front of the picture. A figure of a young boy off to school sat on his trunk and holding his cricket bat.
Perhaps you have a survey figure in your collection? If so we would love to hear from you and why not post a picture to our Facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’!
A chance finding of this early colourway from 1968 encouraged me to do a little more research into her painter, Edwin Leigh, more usually known as Tim Leigh. His monogram however, remained EL.
Above and below, two views of the colourway.
Tim began working at Doultons in 1928 and was still touring the world on their behalf promoting their wares and the artistry and skill of Doulton’s craftsmen and women, when this picture was taken of him during this demonstration in Australia in 1979.
During his many decades of service, I found that by 1955 Tim was already in charge of the junior male figure painters.
A quick look through my collection I found several favourites painted by him including Celia, Miss Demure, Fleurette, Clemency and Sweet Anne to name but a few.
This great talent lives on in the many figures painted by him around the world. To finish here is his full signature on the base of the colourway above, rather than his usual cypher.
The base of the above colourway also showing the model number 2063 that helps us date it to the late 1960’s.
As you know it is a real interest of mine to research where figures derive their inspiration. Those who have read my book ‘Reflections’ with Jocelyn, will have seen the section on the illustrator Jennie Harbour.
Very little is known about the illustrator but her work can be found on Tuck’s postcards as well as in many editions of deco books from the time. Her illustrations remain popular today around the world and framed, vintage prints can sell for a fair sum.
Back to Phyllis, as you can see she has been expertly interpreted from Jennie Harbour’s illustration ‘Sweet Nell’ by Harradine. Here she is as HN1486, although the most readily found version is HN1420 as it was clearly the most popular colourway. I have always felt that she makes the perfect partner to Dolly Vardon save for the base on Phyllis. Perhaps there is a version if Phyllis out there without a base. As we know modifications were frequent on these early figures, and we looked at how a stepped vase was added to Harradine’s Helen some time ago.
We all normally associate bright reds, blues and greens with Doulton figures, however, there were a small group of early figures that fit into the peachy, yellow-orange bracket as you can see above.
The majority of these figures have HN numbers around 1500, indeed the colourway of Sweet Anne pictured actually carries the HN number 1529, an HN number we associate with the colourway of A Victorian Lady – also pictured above. This group of ladies are typically finished with green accessories; usually a gorgeous hue of green to compliment the yellowy orange colouring. The wonderful thing about these ladies is the depth of the colouring involved – a real forte of the Doulton painters of the time who would re-fire the colours multiple times to achieve the desired effect.
This demure band of ladies are all colour co-ordinated, yet, there are others we can add to this dreamy crowd. Here is a colourway of Pauline in orange.
Perhaps you too own figures that belong to this group. If so why not share them via our facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’. We look forward to welcoming you!
A close up of the skilfully painted children’s faces.
This delightful study was the concept of Leslie Harradine in 1921 during his first year of supplying models to Doulton’s studios in Burslem. Harradine had been apprenticed to Doulton in Lambeth in the early years of the 20th Century but factory life he found unbearable and so broke loose from these confines. He continued to supply models to Lambeth’s studios until his departure for Canada. This early time in Harradine’s association with Doulton we have covered already in the three part article on his life.
Upon his return Charles Noke, Burslem’s art director, tried every enticement to attract Harradine to move to the Potteries but to no avail. A compromise was of course reached whereby he would supply models to Burslem, something that continued for many decades.
This early group by Harradine was available in 5 different colourways and one HN1342 was produced until 1993. Whilst not classed as a prestige piece the painting that can be found on these pieces is stunning as I am sure you will agree.
Harradine’s inspiration for this piece apparently came during an evening out in London, whereupon he saw such a scene and sketched it upon his shirt sleeve. A romantic story for a sentimental group.
The enduring charm of this study meant that a collectors plate and more recently a miniature version of this group HN4807 was introduced in 2005.
Looking around fairs I am sometimes amused by small curious creations stamped Doulton, the vast majority of which were the creations of Mark V. Marshall. His inspiration for these cannot be put down to one source, but rather he drew from his own imagination and probably Lewis Carroll’s imagination too with his representation of Carroll’s Mock Turtle and Cheshire Cat. In addition to the creations below a more recognisable rabbit can be found together with lizards and other creatures.
Paperweights and desk accessories were a staple of the Lambeth factory and indeed Tinworth’s mouse on currant bun was so popular it was re-issued in 1913 to mark his death. I have in my own collection a bizarre Cararra advertising paperweight too. The possibilities as we all know with Doulton, are as always endless.
Shagreen ca. 1924
This ware consisted of a transfer design to simulate the shagreen covered articles popular in the 1920’s. It occurs in green, blue and pink decorating coffee sets, powder bowls, ash trays and desk sets when it does turn up. China items often bear silver mounts marked G.B. & sons (George Betjeman) the once popular cabinet maker and high end retailer.