Collecting Doulton’s first set of Character Jugs – All for one and one for all! 

Athos D6439.

1956 saw the first set of Doulton Character Jugs introduced, quite some time after the original Doulton ‘face jugs’ or as they quickly became known character jugs were introduced in 1934. 

Porthos D6440.

Today we can hardly imagine a time when sets of jugs weren’t produced given the many themes from Royalty to Dickens that litter Doulton’s Character Jug Collection.


Aramis D6441.

Still Aramis, Porthos and Athos, the three heroes of Alexandre Dumas’ French adventure The Three Musketeers  were the original set. 

Original publicity photo for the original characters.

Whilst the original 3 were the creations of the legendary Max Henk, it was Stan Taylor who would eventually add their youthful friend D’Artagnan to the set in 1982 as a large jug and then the small and tiny in 1987. All characters and sizes save the table lighter remained in production until 1991, meaning that the set can be readily assembled by new collectors today and is a perfect example of how Doulton captured the publics imagination with these characters from legend! 

My thanks to Seaway China for the use of their photo library. C.E. 

Collecting Doulton’s early ‘Character Birds’.

HN 287 mounted on a powder bowl.

Having recently looked at powder bowls and boxes, you may have noticed some of Doulton’s early character birds used as finials.

A colour variation of model 338.

Introduced in 1922 and withdrawn by 1946 (although given their rarity today a much earlier withdrawal date is certain), these rare birds do occasionally appear and when try do they are typically found mounted on anything from desk accessories to menu holders and place name holders for the dinner table. 

A selection of character birds in the foreground seen at the ‘Gallery of Amazing Things’ in January.

There were some 11 models of birds created and all were available in more than one colourway, providing much scope for collectors. Indeed when they appear mounted on objects you are likely to find an unrecorded colourway of one of these delightful birds! 

A delightful version of model 338 – HN 261.

A collection of these characterful birds is acid able but it will take time and dedication to build, together with a rather deep pocket! 

Collecting Doulton Powder Bowls.

It seems hard to believe today that powder boxes and their like we’re once a staple on every well-to-do dressing table. These halcyon times seem a very long ago now, but back in the 1920’s and early 1930’s Doulton were producing such boxes for well-heeled ladies!

Elephant finial on base featuring the Veridian seriesware pattern. 

Even before the 1920’s a couple of early figures in the HN collection were adapted as powder bowls, typically with the bowl being the lower part of the figure’s skirt. The Flounced Skirt and Lady and Blacksmoor are two such figures that were adapted as powder bowls, with examples of the former turning up bearing the Dubarry name to her base; the famous perfumier and cosmetics manufacturer. The name Dubarry may be familiar to Doulton collectors as Doulton also produced ceramic atomisers and some specifically for Dubarry.

Early character bird on a typical lustre bowl. 

Other powder bowls featured figures simply incorporated into the lid of the piece, such as Cassim or The Japanese Fan. 

The Japanese Fan as a powder bowl finial. This figure can be found on a rounded bowl too. 

Still further examples feature early Doulton animals including these charming, rare character birds that lend them perfectly to this purpose and as decoration to many desk accessories and even place setting or menu holders.

Character Bird and Kingfisher finials.

Collecting Doulton Animal Brooches! 

Medium size Spaniel brooch.

A rather bizarre aspect to Doulton animal collecting are the extremely rare range of brooches featuring dog heads, one cat and even a kingfisher to collect.

Airedale brooch.

Produced in the 1930’s this area of collecting Doulton animals offers great scope as there are sure to be undiscovered examples out there! 

Unusual St. Bernard brooch.

Some brooches were made in large, medium and small sizes and others including the spaniel were available in different colourings identical to the breed. 

Publicity photograph featuring dogs’ head brooches.

These brooches all have a dress fitting and pin to the reverse with Royal Doulton engraved. I have yet to see an example without the brass fitting to see if the pottery also bears the Doulton symbol or name! 

Brass fitting on the reverse. 

Seasonal changes with Doulton figures! 

Cover of a catalogue featuring Summer Serenade.

One of several classic sets of four seasons figures produced by Royal Doulton is this set made exclusively for the Guild of China and Glass Retailers to which Doulton belonged. 


Catalogue page from 1993. 

Three existing models by the legendary Peggy Davies and one model from Peter Gee were given a colourful re-incarnation to become part of this series. 


Danielle HN 3001 became Spring Song HN

Beatrice HN 3263 became Summer Serenade HN 3610

Michelle HN 2334 became Autumn Attraction HN 3612


Caroline HN 3170 became winter welcome HN 3611.

Autumn Attraction and Winter Welcome. 

For collectors it is the Doulton ‘colouring’ of these popular models that set them apart from the originals which were typically very modestly decorated and for me too that makes them instantly more attractive! 

Noke the artist! 

Collectors forget that Noke despite his excellent reputation as a modeller was also an accomplished artist. Signed pieces are hard to come by as is highlighted by the fact that each of these bowls – the largest 23cm diameter – was purchased on separate occasions. 

I had previously believed that they could have been the work of Noke junior but the largest piece can be dated to 1918, prior to his commencement and training at Doulton. 

Doulton figures- are you seeing dots? 

Who doesn’t love matching colourways? We’ve looks at matching reds, pinks, blues, greens and even oranges, but here are three other early figures you’ll be dotty about! 

Sibell HN 1735.

After writing the Kate Hardcastle piece on Monday I recalled these spotted beauties and lamented how I’d never managed to find all three at the same time! 

Kate Hardcastle HN 1734.

Just as other groups, their HN numbers are in the same number range, but this time they are chronological if you take a second look!

Camille HN1736.

With such vivid colours and an unmistakable design this group may not be to everyone’s taste but they are super rare! 

Collecting Doulton stamp trays. 

Character fox HN866.

From time to time one spots familiar items mounted with various Doulton wares and such was the case when I recently saw this Dickens miniature of Tony Weller mounted on a genuine Shagreen base together with a sterling silver stamp holder or stamp moistener (the moistener missing), just like mine with the fox above. 

Tony Weller HN544.
Here is a further example mounted with a very rare character Beagle, a very early Doulton animal currently available from Seaway China. 

Character Beagle HN831.

 The sterling silver mark on the stamp holder gives us the year 1923 as the year of production. 

Royal Doulton’s Kate Hardcastle – the story of a name. 

Royal Doulton’s figurine Kate Hardcastle takes her name from the the heroine of the Anglo-Irish playwright Goldsmith’s comedy ‘She Stoops To Conquer’ first performed in the 18th Century.

Kate Hardcastle HN1734.

Kate, a spirited young girl pretends to be a barmaid to overcome the shyness of her lover, Charles Marlow, the son of a rich Londoner. Charles’ shyness disappeared around working class girls hence the needed pretence. 

Kate Hardcastle HN1861.

Realising what she must do in order for Charles to woo her, Kate pretends to be a barmaid, thus stooping to conquer the young Charles! 

Kate Hardcastle HN1719.

Goldsmith’s play has proved perennially popular ever since it was first performed in London in 1773, which explains why in 1935 a figurine was modelled in her contemporary likeness by the great Leslie Harradine. 

Kate Hardcastle HN1919.

Doulton’s figure Kate Hardcastle proved popular with 5 colourways produced in the 1930’s and post WWII a slightly simplified model of her in somewhat muted colouring similar to HN1719 was introduced as HN2028. The issue with her has always been the base, which as collectors know is a particularly weak point when they are square or rectangular on these early figures, hence why most figures have round bases.