Category Archives: Burslem

Royal Doulton’s ever popular miniature Polly Peachum figures.

Polly Peachum and her counterparts hold a special place in the hearts of many figure collectors due to her prominent appearance in the HN Collection from 1921 until WWII. Polly is central to Royal Doulton’s first series of figures, designed by Leslie Harradine, and each is based on the Lovett Fraser costumes for the 1920 revival of the opera at the Lyric in Hammersmith, London.

A display of miniature Polly Peachums in an appropriately sized display!

Originally produced in a typical larger size as two models – one standing HN463 (with 6 other colourways) and one curtsying (again with 4 more colourways), the latter is often referred to as Polly Curtsey in early publicity for the Beggars Opera series.

A 1925 calendar with Polly dated 1925.

It is the latter model (316) or second version of Polly that has inspired this post, for as a miniature figure she can be found in more recorded and unrecorded colourways than any other Royal Doulton figure.

Polly mounted on a bell push.

Today she can still be found mounted in all manner of useful objects from calendars to bell pushes, and a host of other objects in between! Whilst more easily found versions of her such as M21 in pink are relatively inexpensive, other more unusual versions can easily reach four figure sums, which considering her diminutive size (6cm) is quite astonishing!

One of a number of colourways that Polly can be found in!

Interestingly the first versions of this miniature Polly appeared in 1925 as part of the HN, thus pre-dating the M series and it is from this period that most unrecorded variations appear. There were 8 original HN colourways of her and the most popular were incorporated into the M series upon its launch in 1932.

Another variation of our heroine!

Questions around the markings on the bases of some of these early versions remain unanswered including why some carry early HN numbers such as HN8. My explanation is that these seemingly erroneous references actually refer to the colour of early full size HN figures such as the Crinoline and Picardy Peasant which have been given to Polly as well.

Polly labelled HN1265 to her base, referencing her colourway based on Lady Fayre HN1265.

Collecting Royal Doulton’s Poppies ‘B’ seriesware.

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. 

Royal Doulton’s rare seriesware design ‘Cock-a-doodle-do’.

Royal Doulton certainly knew how to capture the market and this seriesware design is another illustration of their timely delivery to a clamouring public.

Today we associate this series with nurseryware but of course it does carry Royal Doulton’s famous D numbers from their ‘gift’ ware range (either D4686 or D4830).

In total there are seven scenes which revolve around the farmyard life of hens, ducks and of course roosters; all of whom can be found brought to comic life in this series and many are illustrated here. 

This design was introduced in 1928 and withdrawn by 1939, making it a hard series to find today. 
Interestingly, it also carries an individual backstamp so popular with Royal Doulton on their many seriesware designs.

My thanks to John Hatfield for use of the images here. CE

Doulton’s Hispano Moresque wares

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. 

Doulton’s Photographic Ware

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.

The best Doulton present of all….

Starting to think ahead, here’s the perfect gift for Doulton lovers – a subscription to our magazine! If you haven’t yet subscribed to the Doulton Collectors Club magazine, here’s a glimpse inside Issue 3. 

  
Issue 4 is about to go out around the world, so watch this space for a glimpse of the cover and to see what is in the next issue! 

To subscribe simply visit: http://www.paulwebsterantiques.co.uk

and register there by clicking on the Club tab. Alternatively you may subscribe via Seaway China!

Doulton’s teatime favourites! 

If drainpipes were the mainstay and indeed supporter of Doulton’s famous stoneware art wares at Lambeth, then it was their table and teawares that supported the many art ware productions of their Burslem factory, and without whose success we may not have the many collectible wares so cherished around the globe today.

  
A favourite art nouveau trio.

With such a rich history in tableware and teaware production there is a veritable wealth of patterns, shapes and periods to collect from early Spanishware, to Kingsware, seriesware, Bunnykins as well as period styles from the high Edwardian period to the popular deco styles of the 1920’s and 1930’s – once again Doulton more than provided for their clamouring public! 

  
A 1905 catalogue page showing popular blue and white designs.

A visit to any antiques market or fair today illustrates how this once unfashionable area is once again ‘de rigeur’ with trios in particular to be found on most ceramics stalls at such fairs. Indeed the increasing popularity of cookery shows on TV including the ever popular ‘Bake Off’ has helped drive up the popularity of tea parties once more.  

  
Illustration from a 1930’s tableware brochure titled ‘Grace before meat’.

This modern popularity has left the starchiness of high tea behind and what we have today is an eclectic mix of the old and new to suit the 21st C, which is once again making us dig out grannies favourite tea sets and adding new items to our tea tables! 

  
A selection of Doulton trios illustrating shape, period, target market place and varying Doulton lines including Bunnykins and Kingsware.