The name Harry Allen will be familiar to many Doulton collectors because of his association with so many of Doulton’s most famous lines from Flambe, Sung, Titanian, figures and of course to the fantastic hand painted items by this great Doulton artist.
The son of Robert Allen who himself led an art studio at Doulton in Burslem, Harry proved himself a versatile artist but he will be forever associated with his enchanting desert scene images carefully painted onto all manner of items from jugs to plates and everything in between!
Whilst not readily available today, with perseverance it is possible to build a collection of his romantic desert scene work. You will find that Harry signed his work either in full or as H. Allen or else as H. A.
The desert scene items I have come across can be dated to c. 1905, with the yellow desert background being the most usual.
Originally introduced in 1939 for a very brief period, Doulton once again introduced character teapots in 1988 with Old Salt pictured. Once again it was a remodelled character jug personality that provided inspiration for the piece.
Thereafter other famous Doulton characters appeared including the Balloon Man and Woman Teapot based on those two famous figures. The difference being with these new teapots was that whilst Old Salt was a RDICC exclusive, many of the other new models weren’t but were limited edition pieces.
Old Salt teapot and original character jug that inspired it!
Whilst many characters were produced to a prototype stage, they never reached full production so the range was originally intended to be quite extensive.
Whenever one thinks of Doulton roses the names Edward Raby and perhaps the successor to his ‘throne’ Percy Curnock spring immediately to mind. However, there was a range of Doulton decorated with ‘print and tint’ roses from the early years of the 20th Century that were intended to be more accessible to collectors.
Typically this range of wares were produced on a cobalt blue ground and occasionally they had further gilded embellishment such as in the above illustration.
More recently I came across the turquoise jug pictured below decorated using the same rose images as were found on the cobalt blue versions. As always, Doulton never fails to throw up surprises to keep us on our toes!
In 1960 Doulton introduced their popular Williamsburg personalities into the HN collection and they were soon followed by seven character jugs representing characters from colonial Williamsburg. The set of seven jugs remained in production for some 20 years and there was to be a further character, the Cabinet Maker, added in 1981 but the collection was discontinued before he was able to join them!
The set of seven jugs were modelled by either Max Henk or David Biggs and available in large, small or mini sizes during their 20 year production. The seven characters to collect are: the Bootmaker, the Goaler, the Gunsmith, the Guardsman, the Night Watchman, the Apothecary and the Blacksmith. Fortunately the Cabinet Maker would make an appearance as D7010 rather than the original D6659 in 1995 at the RDICC Williamsburg Convention in a limited edition of 1,500 pieces and so did eventually complete this popular set!
Williamsburg is an ambitious restoration of an 18th Century US town and the capital of Virginia, it began falling into neglect once the seat of government moved in 1780 and the town lost its importance. Williamsburg’s restoration began in 1926 and today it is populated with hundreds of staff who carry on 18th Century life – from their clothing to their traditional trades resp resented by these character jugs!
This delightful series was introduced in 1914 at the start of the First World War however, early examples can still be found despite wartime restrictions.
In total there are some 12 scenes to collect which can bear one of three reference numbers: D3567, D3812 and E8503.
The series was withdrawn by 1928 and whilst rack plates are the most easily found items from this romantic series other items such as the sugar shaker and even a tea set have been found.
Typical of the early patterns they feature much hand painting too that give them an extra special appeal to collectors!
Leslie Harradine’s figurine Blithe Morning certainly has non of the ghostly spirit of the film Blithe Spirit, that invariably influenced her name! The film Blithe Spirit appeared in 1945 and was based on the play of the same name by Noel Coward. The play and film are centred around the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madame Arcati played by Margaret Rutherford, to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The deception backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, after the séance. Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost. The comedy is now a classic film.
Harradine’s very typical Doulton lady exudes her own kind of blithe spirit as strolls carefree into an oncoming breeze. Introduced in 1949 as HN 2021 in blue colourway and a year later as HN 2065 in a red colourway so favoured by Doulton collectors. She remained in production for some 20 plus years and today’s she is the type of figure that every Harradine collector wants!
Pictured along with the two typical colourways is a further colourway from 1948, which is almost a combination of the two official versions but as is usual with colourways there is added detail particularly to her shawl.
This type of ware was an invention of John Slater and because of the period of production can be found with the Doulton coronet backstamp. No doubt the name is derived from corolla as the images on these pieces are typically floral.
The process involved multiple firings of blue and white transfer images which gave them depth and one can usually find one of Robert Allen’s pseudonym signatures on the body of vases: Kelsall and A. Wagg.
These charming small size fonts are often mistaken for just that – a mini church font but they are in fact so called fire wells. It is hard to imagine their actual function in that the two illustrated measure a diminutive 8cm tall and the full size versions I have seen around 20cm.
They have been previously described as examples of Doulton advertising for themselves, but the Well Fire and Foundry Co was a company of yesteryear as you can see from this advert found on the Internet. These items for the company date to the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The darker of the two examples pictured above is an advertising piece for the Well Fire and Foundry Company Ltd and the base details options available.
The light green version in a matt glaze bears no indication of its use but simply the usual Doulton impressed mark, suggesting Doulton sold them too as fancies, or ashtrays, or indeed mini well fires!
Animals have always been a popular giftware line for Doulton’s with many animal models even pre-dating the first introductions to their famous HN figure range in 1913.
A Titanian vase featuring an owl – always a popular subject!
One particular animal that always has collectors clamouring for it is the owl – produced in many variations from character examples, to realistic interpretations!
A very unusual version of Granny Owl.
Even before the early HN animals, owls featured in many Doulton Lambeth works of art! The great Leslie Harradine modelled this vase for reproduction; ‘night and day’ shown here with the owl central to the night panel!
There are further examples by the likes of Simmeon and Pope of garden statuary…
…and of course this charming Bibelot…
…to this tooth pick holder…
….and even this wonderful biscuit or tobacco jar in the form of an owl!
Returning to the Burselm studio, owls featured frequently in Doulton’s hand painted wares and in particular their Titanian range such as this example…
…and there is also a charming seriesware pattern featuring owls to collect – although examples are hard to find!
Doulton’s owl studies from the Burselm studio can be found in unusual glazes from Flambé to Sung, although once again these are hard to come by today!
Rare flambé Owl and Owlet.
Perhaps my favourite example is this character owl ‘Granny Owl’ HN 187, wrapped up in her shawl and who perhaps explains their popularity as it embodies that romantic feel Doulton owls have and why collectors fight to own these delightful studies!