Few designs have the followers of this particular Royal Doulton art nouveau design. Well over a century after its introduction in 1909, today collectors still compete for unusual items featuring this iconic design.
Although it had a relatively long production period until sometime after the outbreak of WWII, examples of it, other than rack plates are very hard to find.
Over the years I have seen tennis sets, toilet sets, dinner plates and various jugs in collections around the world, yet, each collection has a specific focus of either decoration for the bathroom, the use of rack plates in a sitting or dining room or else simply part of a wider collection of Royal Doulton’s famous serieswares.
There are three colour variations to be found, namely pink, blue and a yellow version. Interestingly there is also a special backstamp to be found which reads ‘sleep gentle sleep’, no doubt a reference to the symbolic use of poppies for those fallen in war and also recalling that famous line from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II.
Hispano Moresque was one of John Slater’s first successes at Doulton’s Nile Street works in the early 1880s.
At the time Doulton at Nile Street only had an earthenware body to use as a medium, which fortunately suited Slater’s revival of the centuries old Hispano Moresque tradition of lustre painting.
Often examples of this red lustre ware can be identified by an ‘Art Ware’ mark in addition to either a typical early Doulton rosette backstamp or simply an impressed Doulton. In addition you can often find an impressed Faience mark on such early pieces.
As well as being an artist John Slater was something of an innovator and collectors will be well aware of many pieces of Burslem and Lambeth ware bearing the term ‘Slater’s Patent’ including Doulton’s famous Chiné ware.
Precise production dates of Hispano Moresque are unknown although it is estimated that unlike its contemporary ‘Spanish ware’, the former’s production was limited to the 1880s.
The sheer variety of early figures in Royal Doulton’s HN collection illustrates the lengths that were gone to, to appeal to early collectors as the company tried to discover a popular house style.
Title page of an early figure catalogue.
Of course by the time the Masquerade pair appeared in 1924, the great Leslie Harradine had already been supplying models to the Burslem art studios for a few years.
A burnished gold HN636 Masquerade.
During the early 20thC there was huge interest in masked and costume balls and the latter must have inspired this pairing and other Chelsea inspired figures from a bygone age in English china manufacturing.
Masquerade (female) HN 600.
‘Kissing’ Masqueraders HN 600 in china and HN 683 in earthenware.
Interestingly the two Doulton models’ bases fit so that the couple can kiss if the owner so wishes. They appear in this 1920’s figure catalogue titled Personalities and Porcelain along with a group of other early figures. Also of interest to note is that HN683 and HN 637 the last versions of each were actually made in earthenware rather than china like the other versions.
Masquerade HN 599 & 636.
Typical of Doulton’s studios they also experimented with this pair and a handful of other figures, producing examples in burnished gold with ivory face and hand details, imitating gold/bronze and Ivory figurative sculptures from the art nouveau era.
A chance find of a portrait plaque featuring a well known portrait of Sir Henry Doulton has inspired this piece.
Doulton’s Photographic ware is rare with examples dating between 1893-1905 approximately.
Early plate with a photographic image of Joseph Joachim, a popular violinist.
The method of transferring a photographic image on to transfer paper for application on to a china body was developed by John Slater and examples usually carry a simple Doulton mark and also the predictable “Slater’s Patent” stamp.
A pair of early Slater’s Patent photographic plates (subjects unknown).
Subjects range from famous stage personalities of the time to other period celebrities.
A smart child’s breakfast set, once popular christening presents.
Classic nursery rhymes have long provided much inspiration for Doulton’s designers and just like many Seriesware designs the L range was influenced by another artist, Ann Anderson.
Introduced in 1916 there were 12 different designs produced featuring classic characters such as Little Tommy Tucker, the Queen of Hearts and This Little Pig.
A variation of the boxed set above.
Typically produced in bone china the precise date of withdrawal is unknown, although the outbreak of WWII is given as it is with so many of Doulton’s different lines. The bases of items with these designs can carry H or D numbers for this series ware pattern.
Beaker with silver plated handle and original retailer’s box.
As with so many series ware designs hunting down items provides a great challenge and a collection of them makes a great display.
Morrisian ware 1903-1924
Named after William Morris, whose influence is immediately recognisable in the borders and of course in the backstamp often found on this ware.
Close up of a Morrisian umbrella stand.
With endless variations and some which do not always carry the Morrisian backstamp, it does make this type of ware an interesting field to collect as only through experience do we recognise it.
Another umbrella stand, this time showing William Morris’ influence.
The earthenware body used is decorated in various transfer images, the most desirable of which are those of the American illustrator Will Bradley from “Beauty and the Beast”. Typically pieces of Morrisian Ware are also on the larger size.
A further shape of umbrella stand.
The most typical scenes are those of dancing girls, young boys with garlands, Bradley’s illustrations mentioned above and a series of golfers.
A typical pedestal vase with dancing figures.
As was typical of Doulton, their in-house artists also did pastiches of Bradley’s designs of golfers and dancing maidens.
A rare blue and white umbrella stand with solid gold decoration.
The three most typical colour schemes are blue and white, black and red and black on yellow. A rare blue with solid gold also turns up occasionally.
Thanks to the team at Seaway China for the images used here.
When it comes to hard to find seriesware patterns, Doulton’s ‘Witches’ series is one of the most difficult to find today!
Here is a rare three piece teaset including teapot, milk and sugar – all in wonderful original condition that is even more unusual!
Introduced in 1906 examples of this series ware pattern are among the hardest to trace today. It’s precise date of withdrawal is unknown but I can imagine the ‘by 1928’ is simply a guesstimate and in reality production would have been much more limited given its scarcity today.
As with all seriesware patterns a collection of one theme makes a real statement and the pleasure of collecting and searching out that rare item is what drives collectors to continue!