Katherine B. Smallfield is a typical Doulton artist in that her career literally blossomed during her time at Doulton. She was one of a large number of women artists engaged by Henry Doulton, an uncommon industrial trend for the time. She began her time at Doulton c.1881 and in 1882 was already listed as a senior assistant before being promoted to artist, still in the faience department.
Museums around the world hold examples of her fine work with floral subjects being a particular forté. She continued working at Doulton until 1912 and examples of art nouveau designs, such as the vase below, confirm her adaptability as an artist.
Birds have always been a popular subject in the ceramics world and if they are your passion then Doulton at Burslem, as always, have many lines for you to collect! Rather than simply collecting actual examples such as the swallow, budgerigar, cockatoo or fledglings like those illustrated, you will find handpainted examples on fine bone china as well as many examples featured on Doulton’s famous seriesware patterns, also illustrated. Birds also feature heavily on Doulton’s exclusive Titanian wares, with hand painted varieties painted by leading artists of the time. Humour was a typical forté of Doultons in the 1920’s and they created many comical animal characters in their ranges; above you can see examples of Harry Rowntree’s comical birds on a vase and also a blackbird wearing a fez from Robert Allen’s studio of artists at Butslem on another pair of vases. In respect of actual examples of birds they can be found throughout the 100 year history of the HN collection as well as in the miniature animal ‘K’ range more commonly associated with dogs and penguins. We must finish by simply mentioning that birds played an important part in the decoration of many of Doulton’s Lambeth works of art too and artists such as Florence Barlow were the leaders of this movement.
….may not be solid gold, but nevertheless it is gold that is used to decorate many of Doulton’s most extravagant Burslem wares produced during the last two centuries!
Whether it be wares including Doulton’s famous Spanishware with its gold tracery or the prestigious acid gold etching that is found on quality exhibition items and tea wares (both of which can be seen in the illustration), or else burnished gold to decorate their famous figures, Doulton has always produced something gold to suit every collector.
Many of the elaborate gilt design of the 20th Century were designed by Robert Allen, who ran an art department at Burslem and who worked closely with Doulton’s art director CJ Noke on many of their famous lines. Allen’s designs were brought to life by a small band of expert gilders such as Thomas Morton or the Williams Massey and Skinner.
The sheer variety of Doulton’s gilded wares really does mean that there is something for every collector and let us not forget that whilst gilding is not typically associated with their Lambeth wares, it was used on chiné and the gold whorl patterns for decades and can be found on some artist pieces most notable in my experience on the work of Francis C. Pope.
The Apothecary of Williamsburg in earthenware and translucent china.
In 1968 a new ceramic translucent china body began to be used for Character jugs, something that continued until 1973 when there was a return to the traditional earthenware body. The new ceramic body necessitated some existing jugs to be re-modelled to ensure that the level of detail remained. Earthenware is decorated underglaze thus more depth is achieved upon the much finer-detailed, cast piece, whereas the detail is somewhat subdued once the glaze is applied for on-glaze painting. In general the new body produced jugs that were 1″ smaller overall with 19% shrinkage as opposed to just 12.6% with earthenware. Collectors search out these now rare editions of their favourite jugs as the overall effect creates a higher quality product in their eyes.
When what we know as Character jugs today, were launched back in 1934 it was very much a time of trial and error in respect of what to introduce and the sizes that appealed most to collectors. What we know as Large jugs today were the first introductions, then with Sairey Gamp in 1935 we saw a small size jug introduced as well as the standard large size. In this same vein Doulton introduced a medium size jug in 1938 with six characters from Dickens’ works. These were all withdrawn by 1948.
The six characters were:
Buzz Fuzz D5838
Mr Pickwick D5839
Fat Boy D5840
Sam Weller D5841
Cap’n Cuttle D5842
Mr Micawber D5843
To complicate matters these numbers also refer to the small sizes of each of these jugs too and when available as a table lighter, again the same D number applies.
To illustrate the sizes of jugs here are a handful of Dickens’ characters forever immortalised by Doulton!
l-r: large, mid-size, small, mini and tiny.
Part of an early catalogue page featuring ‘Surfing’.
Introduced in 1926 at the height of the roaring 1920’s this truly deco pattern must have been considered too modern to the general buying public of the time as examples rarely appear today.
Distinctly Art Deco in style and echoing the handful of. figures of bathers and swimmers in Doulton’s HN collection, this seriesware pattern is the perfect accompaniment to a display of deco ladies.
There appears to be only one scene within this pattern, although I have seen it on numerous items, including most recently a pin tray. Although shapes were added to the series in 1928, production will have been very limited given the lack of this pattern appearing on the secondary market and will have been withdrawn long before the suggested ‘by 1942’ that is often suggested.
With a long history steeped in myth and also religious importance it is no surprise that there are so many elephant studies to be found in flambé and other associated glazes.
Very rare character elephant in flambé.
Asian religion gives particular importance to the elephant and so the marriage with the flambé glaze seems particularly appropriate.
Elephant head ashtray in Sung, discontinued 1961.
The elephant is a symbol of strength And given the size of some of Doulton’s elephant studies they certainly convert this immense strength.
Large size elephant 47cm long.
The interesting part of collecting this species is that many early models were given additional and different treatments including Sung and Chinese Jade.
Mary Bunnykins (1939) who bears a striking resemblance the the earlier lop earred rabbit below.
There are stories of a school age Charles Noke borrowing clay from the Worcester factory, a favourite visiting place for his father, to model animals and it was Noke who started the HN animal collection at Burslem.
Lop earred rabbit and hare in a black glaze.
There are many hare and rabbit models to collect, with many of them also found in flambé. These early models generally ceased production in all colourways -natural, flambé or other – by the mid 20th Century but a handful including the small lop earred rabbit continued to the end of the 20th Century so if collecting it is essential to read up on production dates to gauge the prices you should be paying.
Very unusual rabbit and young. A larger version was made of this model as often happened at Lambeth, intended to be a garden ornament.
The rabbit and the hare have a strong history in myth and folklore, stemming back through their apparent 4000 year history – explaining mankind’s on-going love of these furry animals. Today the rabbit in particular is still a popular domestic pet.
Two further versions of the Hare HN 126 & HN 273.
The Chinese believe the hare or rabbit is ‘the man in the moon’ whilst Taoist beliefs say that these lovable animals derive their essence from the moon! Perhaps it is their nocturnal habits that have led to these beliefs!
Doulton animals offer collectors -old and new – a great scope for building a collection for the HN animal collection continued into the post war period up until the 1980’s with new introductions throughout those years and in the 1990’s there was a new range -the DA range of animals introduced. Even today Doulton produce the occasional animal.
I would like to have called this piece one of our artist profile blogs but details on this particular artist remain sketchy. It was thought that he joined the small team of figure painters at Doulton in or around 1930, but the discovery of the plate below dates his arrival at Nile St to 1928 or earlier.
Handpainted plate by T. Parton dated 5.28.
The artists monogram ‘TJP’ can be found on figures from 1930 through to 1940 but I am sure there are later examples out there. In 1927 there were 10 figure painters recorded at Nile St and Tom, I feel, must have been one of these early artists. We must remember that even by 1939 there were apparently only 27 painters in the figure department! I recently found a long service record from 1973, which lists Tom with 46 years service as an on-glaze figure painter meaning that he joined in 1927 and was among the easiest figure team of 10! Interestingly there is also a Norman Parton with 42 years service, perhaps a younger brother of Tom’s?
TJP figures Joan (1930) and Toinette (1940).
It is quite typical to find figure painters showing great versatility and examples of vases and such heavily gilded plates have been found by other early figure painters including Reg Brown and John Pierpoint.
The Distillers W. T. Lamb & sons like many other firms commissioned exclusive designs from Doulton to supply as commemoratives or in the case of Lamb’s as Christmas Presents.
This large size jug measuring 8.5″ features the head of Bacchus with appropriate vinery decorating the sides and bearing the initials of the company and the date 1929.
In total there have been 5 Doulton items found that were produced for W. T. Lamb including an early jug, a typical 1920’s comport, the above tankard, a fire-well or well head and this vase, probably a design by Vera Huggins and dated 1928.
These dated pieces date from 1927 through to Christmas 1931.
Other conpanies to Doulton also produced wares for Lambs including Poole but there are certainly other Doulton items out there to be found!