Check out this link for a look at the first chapter in the 100 years of Doulton figures by me and published by Seaway China.
Here is the first page of the HN figure decoration book
Here is a sample:
Few people in 1913 would have imagined that this article would be being written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Royal Doulton’s HN Collection. It was not after all Doulton’s first attempt at a introducing a figure range and many other famous factories had attempted and failed at this ambition. In 1893 at the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, a handful of figurative models by one of Doulton’s newest recruits Charles J. Noke were among their exhibits. These minimally decorated figures, now commonly referred to as Vellum Figures, met with a mixed reception from the buying public and Noke’s ambition of reviving the once famous, Staffordshire figure production was put on hold as his attention was drawn away by other projects including the introduction of Kingsware, Rembrandtware, Holbeinware, Hyperionware, the famous flambé glazes and the introduction of Doulton’s Series Ware with patterns such as the popular Dickens series. The range of Vellum Figures was very much influenced by the products of the Worcester factory where Noke had worked for some sixteen years until leaving to join Doulton in Burslem in his early 30’s. He would later comment that he joined Doulton ‘not for the money but for the freedom’ as Henry Doulton famously allowed his artists free rein.
A timely visit to the Doulton Burslem factory in April 1913 by England’s then King George V and Queen Mary provided a re-newed impetus to Noke’s desire to launch a new range of figures. In the years preceding this visit Noke had been approaching a carefully selected group of artists to provide models for Royal Doulton to reproduce in ceramic. It is reported that the new range of figures was completed in late 1912 but the launch of the range was held back to coincide with the Royal visit, and what a good decision this proved to be as Queen Mary would become a fan of the range making many purchases over the coming decades. In Royal Doulton’s brochures from the 1920’s and 1930’s they even pin pointed the figures Her Majesty had purchased – it undoubtedly proved very useful to have the most famous lady in the land favouring their figures.
I thought you might all like to see this extra montage of the Queen’s visit to Royal Doulton at Burslem in 1949, when still Princess Elizabeth. Of particular interest is some Seriesware inspired by Brangwyn ware and also the decorating of figures from this period and a comprehensive display of them! Well worth a look!
This original illustration is by the popular illustrator Jennie Harbour and clearly is the source for Tittensor’s Lady and Blackamoor. Interestingly this example spotted at the Seaway China/Whitley event in Detroit 2009, is modelled as a powder bowl and the base separates from the rest to provide a place for the powder and puff! The colouring of HN375 is identical to that of HN374, but the former indicates that it is modelled as a powder bowl.
Illustration by Jennie Harbour ‘Powder and Patches’.
And here is the rare Lady and Blackamoor HN375 to compare to the original.
As soon as the term colourway is used, many suddenly think of the unique and unusual. Doulton, however, seem to have had a much wider view of the term. Certainly during the inter-war years of the 1920’s and 1930’s many figures were available in colourways to compliment existing figures in the range. Take for example the selection of two-tone green figure: Barbara (HN1461), Paisley Shawl (HN1460), Patricia (HN1462), Miss Demure (HN1463), Sweet Anne (HN1453) and Victorian Lady (HN1452).
Clearly this set was produced to compliment one another. Other such sets include Sweet Anne(HN1496), Dorcas (HN1558) and Priscilla (HN1559);
Another group is Veronica (HN1650), Sweet and Twenty (HN1649), Janet (HN1652) and Camille (HN1648) (not illustrated); and below you can see Pantalettes (HN1362), Victorian Lady (HN1345) and Sweet Anne (HN1318);
As can be seen from the illustrations here, even the ‘M’ range figures reflect this trend. Child figures too can be group together in complimentary colouring such as Monica (HN1467) and Marie (HN1635) below.
A clear favourite colourway amongst collectors has of course always been the ‘red’ figures and this began in the 1920’s when figures such as Spanish Lady (HN1294) and then later Marguerite (HN1948) and Christmas Morn (HN1992) began to appear. A paricular favourite of mine has always been Pantalettes (HN1709) seen below.
Whatever your reasons for collecting, once you have a sizable group of figures you are sure to find a theme or group that will help create your perfect display and of course that is part of the fun of collecting – how to display your collection to its best advantage.
If you have any particular groupings that you have put together please write in with a picture for us to all share!