Or rather where the then new figure range began in 1913 – is perhaps how that heading should read.
In reality Darling was not the first figure in the HN collection but due to Queen Mary’s famous christening of him with her statement “Isn’t he a darling” – he was given the prestigious number 1 in the new number sequence.
Designed by Charles Vyse who would later inspire Doulton’s famous balloon sellers, Darling was produced in his original size of 19cm in four colourways – HN 1 in a pale blue grey nightshirt, HN 1319 in a white nightshirt with black base and then HN 1371 and 1372 in green and pink nightshirts respectively and both with black bases. Of all these originally size models it is HN 1371 and 1372 which are the particularly rare examples.
In the post WWII period Darling was remodelled in the now smaller and most familiar size of 13cm as HN 1945 and remained in production as such until 1997. A lovely additional version of him HN 3613 for Peter Jones the China specialist was introduced to mirror the original HN 1 colouring in 1993.
Only one further model of this charming young boy has been produced and that was for Royal Doulton’s 200th Anniversary Icons series as HN 5648 in a smaller size again of 10cm!
The now mid size Darling HN 3613 with his smaller Icons series counterpart HN 5648, pictured against the first figure booklet from 1913. Note the reference to Queen Mary and ‘Now at Buckingham Palace’!
All in all Darling proved to be the first of one of Royal Doulton’s most popular collecting themes when it comes to figures – children!