Category Archives: Arabian Nights

From boys to men – collecting Royal Doulton’s male figures! 

Whenever people mention Doulton figures, damsels in large crinolines are what most non-collectors think of. Of course collectors know this not to be the case, but a simple look through the collectors’ bible ‘Royal Doulton Figures’ illustrates exactly how many male characters were produced over the years!

Three versions of Noke’s The Cobbler from the musical Chu-Chin-Chow which ran for a once record number of 2000 performances after opening in 1916, together with Cassim.

When the HN collection was launched in 1913 Charles Noke, Art Director, incorporated a handful of his own earlier Vellum figure studies including jesters and eastern musicians into his new collection. In addition to his own designs, he drew on other sculptors to build up interest and prestige for Doulton’s new venture. 

Where else do we need to begin than with HN 1 Darling by the renowned potter Charles Vyse, which started a popular theme of child figures into the range that has continued right up to today!

Darling (HN 1371 after the original HN 1) surrounded by later 1930’s and 1940’s boy figures. 

We have already mentioned eastern characters and there were a slew of them introduced into the early HN collection, reflecting popular interest at the time and also a love of the theatre – another major theme in the HN collection. 

Characters from literature can also be found including Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Cassim from 1001 Arabian Nights, which also influenced other introductions such as Baba and Abdullah. 


Falstaff HN 1606 (1st version). 
Doulton’s famous street sellers also feature many male characters from the familiar Balloon Man HN 1954 to the more modern Punch and Judy Man HN 2765.

Royal Doulton’s “Prestige” range contained many male subjects from Jack Point to King Charles, all of which were re-introductions with simplified decoration from the early HN Collection. 

Illustration from an early catalogue showing his original price too!

Men also feature in many of the early double figures such as The Rustic Swain, Tête-à-tête and The Court Shoemaker. Just as WWII was beginning a new handful of male figures emerged including the rare duo of The Corinthian and Regency Beau, which although attributed to Harry Fenton, it has been suggested that they may have been the idea of the great Leslie Harradine. 

The rare duo The Corinthian and Regency Beau. 

Male figures can be found across the HN range and also in the later M series when the many miniature Dickens figures were added to it too. Plus, just as with Doulton’s ladies, colourways and variations do crop up including this bone china version of Lambing Time dated 1938 and painted by Harry Allen’s expert hand. 

A bone china colourway of Lambing Time dated 1938.

 Once again whatever your particular interest there is sure to be something by Royal Doulton to satisfy your collecting habit! 


Royal Doulton’s ‘Arabian Nights’ seriesware design.

  We have looked at several patterns of late, but this is one of a large group inspired by literature.

Introduced in 1909 there are some 13 designs to collect with a trio of borders to them; the most usual being the ivy border and the rarest the ‘Japanese’ border that I have only had once on a rack plate.

The designs featured are of course based on the many stories contained in The Thousand and One Nights or as we know it the Arabian Nights. 

Ali Baba is a particularly common theme among the designs produced, as well as several more general titles including ‘Preparing for the Feast’.

This colourful series makes an impressive display and also a successful backdrop for many of Doulton’s Arabian figures such as The Cobbler or Abdullah.


Royal Doulton’s eastern delights!

The Cobbler HN542 dated 1925.

Back in the early years of the 20th Century there was great fascination with the ‘exotic East’ most of which had only just entered the consciousness of many people.

An early colourway of The Mendicant dated 1929.

This fascination by the public en mass no doubt explains the success of the musical play Chu Chin Chow. It opened in 1916 just as the HN Collection too was still being established, thus it is no surprise to find many examples of figures inspired by the east in the collection.

A colourway of Abdullah dated 1930.

The main character, The Cobbler, was himself immortalised into the collection by Noke himself!

The base of The Cobbler showing his original factory label.

The popularity of Chu Chin Chow is illustrated by this menu card from 1924, which heralded the return of Doulton’s sales manager from his Australasian tour, much like the tours Michael Doulton does today in his role as ambassador for the Doulton brand. In the menu it sets out the toasts to be made, together with songs to be performed during the dinner that included the Cobbler’s Song from Chu Chin Chowperformed by Jack Noke, Charles’ son who would eventually take over as Art Director at Burslem. Interestingly the cover is also signed by various attendees including Charles Noke.

Two views of the menu card mentioned.


Doulton produced several other eastern inspired figures including The Mendicant, The Potter, The Emir and of course the prestige piece The Moor.

An unusual pair of bookends mounted with The Mendicant colourway (pictured above) and version 2 of Noke’s The Cobbler.