Royal Doulton’s figure surveys.

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’!

Doulton artist profile – Edwin (Tim) Leigh.

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.

Reflections: the source of Harradine’s popular figure Phyllis.

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.


Royal Doulton’s dreamy yellow and orange figures.


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 look back at the enduringly popular Flower Seller’s Children.

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.

HN1206 1926-1943

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.

Collecting Doulton Lambeth paperweights


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.


Doulton artists profile – Percy Curnock

A hand painted plate by Percy Curnock.

So it was in December 1954 that Doulton lost one of its most prodigious and long serving employees, one Percy Curnock. Percy had worked for Doulton for almost 70 years before finally retiring and during that time had witnessed three Royal visits to the Burslem factory. He was, however, known to thousands around the world not just for his hand painted wares that graced famous homes, but also the best selling tableware designs that he created for Doulton, including Passion Flower, Clovelly, Gleneagles, Curnock Rose and of course Glamis Thistle, the last two of which actually carry a fascimilie signature for him – something that had previously not happened at Doulton.

A selection of Glamis Thistle tableware.

Interestingly, Percy did not come from a pottery background, but rather his father was a farmer in Warwickshire. He came to the Potteries as a child and at 13 was taken on by Doulton as an apprentice ceramic modeller. Percy studied during his early days at Doulton at the Burslem School of Art and worked under John Slater and Harry Allen. Doulton themselves commented that few artists ‘can have given greater service to a firm or an industry’. Moreover, he actually returned from retirement during WII to work in the decorating department to replace colleagues who had joined the war effort.

Percy receiving his M. B. E.

Percy was a floral and scenic painter and regarded as one of the outstanding ceramic artists in the country. Flowers were long a speciality of his and his blooms were remarkably real.

Two of Percy’s plates from the first Doulton museum sale in 2000.

In the New Year’s Honours list 1954, he received an M.B.E. and typically he is quoted as saying that it was especially an honour for the firm. It is of interest to note that it was the Queen Mother who awarded him this honour and her family home is of course Glamis Castle, after which the famous tableware pattern was named.

Percy upon his retirement flanked by his son and daughter-in-law, together with J. Warrington works manager on her left and other faces including Reg Brown and William E. Grace amongst others.

As did many of Doulton’s artists, Percy would also turn his hand to painting their most popular lines including figures. I wonder if any of you have a PC monogram to the base of any of your figures?

Percy in his studio painting The Potter.

An interesting vase by Edith Lupton that shows how the vase was decorated.

If like me you often look at a piece of stoneware with intricate, repeat decoration and simply marvel at how the artist meticulously recreated a design over the body of the piece, then this Edith Lupton piece that has come my way should illustrate some of her technique perfectly!

Lupton’s work is instantly recognisable to her many admirers and collectors and whilst she collaborated with many of the great Lambeth artists, her own pieces are equally praise worthy. I hope you can all make out her feint guide lines showing through the glaze in these pictures of this vase from 1883.

In addition to Lupton’s monogram there is also the assistant mark for Rosina Brown.


The Doulton Chicago Exhibition 1893 Jug

As you will be aware Doulton produced many commemoratives throughout it’s long history. Perhaps one of the most unusual is this jug designed by John Broad in 1893 to commemorate this great exhibition.


Relief showing the American eagle at the front.

Either side of the American eagle are portraits of Columbus and Washington between bands of stars.


Finally above the portraits is the banner proclaiming the “World’s Columbian Exposition” – a real tour de force I am sure you’ll agree!