Category Archives: Doulton Collectors club

Dickens Doultonised

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Some early Doulton advertising booklets for Dickensware ca. 1912 – the Centenary of Dickens’ birth, together with  2 seriesware trays a calendar with a Dickens figure and an early Tony Weller

When it comes to the works of Dickens, Charles Noke, Doulton’s art director at Burslem was blatantly a fan if not obsessed by all things Dickens.

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A facsimile of a letter from Dickens’ son to Doulton & Co. expressing his pleasure at their Dickens range

From the early 20th century and throughout his time as art director and even after, Doulton have produced a wide variety of wares to commemorate Dickens’ works.

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Three of Leslie Harradine’s original models for the miniature Doulton Dickens figures

The lengthy of time these many wares were produced mean that there is something for every collector, old and new and something for every pocket size too!

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Another of Harradine’s Prototypes, this time the full size Dickens figures, together with an early Mr Pickwick HN556
Here is a glimpse at the sheer variety of wares produced by Doulton, the majority under the direction of Noke himself!

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Two sterling silver trays mounted with Dickens miniatures.

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Three sizes of character jugs (L, M & S) and a derivative ash bowl

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Three Doulton Dickens tinies including Charles Dickens himself

This is but the tip of the so-called iceberg and there are many collectors throughout the world who share Noke’s enthusiasm for all things Dickens. I have been lucky enough to see two huge collections outside the UK, but why not share any unusual finds to our facebooks page? Search for:

Doulton Collectors Club

See you there!
Christopher

 

100 Years of Doulton figures

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.

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Here is the first page of the HN figure decoration book

Click to access 1-11_cover-doulton-insight.pdf

 

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.

 

Leslie Harradine Part 2 – A change of allegiance

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A rare photograph of Leslie Harradine

The next chapter of Harradine’s association with Doulton begins in 1919. Noke, Art Director at Doulton’s Burslem factory recognised Harradine’s talent for figure making and attempted to recruit him. Noke had been particularly impressed by the set of six Dickens figures Harradine had modelled for Lambeth.

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One of Harradine’s six Dickens figures made for Lambeth – Mr Micawber

However, not under any circumstances would Harradine consider working at Burslem, but via Lambeth’s Art Director Joseph Mott’s intervention, a meeting between Noke and Harradine was arranged whereby Noke travelled to London to meet with Harradine. The result of this meeting was of course that arrangement that has become legend amongst Doulton figure collectors. Thus Noke and Harradine came to an arrangement, whereby Harradine would send a succession of models to Burslem for Noke’s approval and a change of allegiance to Doulton’s of Burslem. This was an arrangement that lasted almost 40 years and would continue when Noke’s son succeeded him as Art Director in 1936 at Burslem. Harradine modelled in his preferred medium – salt glaze stoneware and sent one or two models per month wrapped in brown paper, and whose arrival would cause something of a stir when they arrived in Burslem.

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Here are two of Harradine’s original models for Burslem figures, both of Mr Micawber (first and second versions)

His models would deliver the popular success that the HN range had hitherto not achieved, representing fashions and interests from their own era. Harradine modelled women, men and children with equal skill. His figures entered the HN range in 1920 with The Princess HN391 until 1956, when his last ‘new’ model was introduced, Dimity HN2169, although many of his studies remained in production decades after this.

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The very stylish Clothilde in two colourways

At last Noke had found a modeller who could tap into the so-called ‘moment’ whatever it was, whether it is flapper girls, Victorian ladies, children or group studies. All were executed with precision and subtle style. Harradine remained something of a nomad yet he continued sending in models from addresses in England, the Channel Islands and Spain until the end of this great partnership.

In our final part to the Harradine story, we will look at Leslie Harradine, the family man.

Another interesting find from Karyn and Gordon

Here we have a colourway of Katharine, one not illustrated in the 1994 figures book and hitherto not recorded.

I believe this to be HN793 given the description in the aforementioned book. The piece has an impressed model number date of ‘9.23’ for September 1923.

The piece was originally introduced in 1916 but any examples of her are hard to find. She was of course modelled by the great C. J. Noke, Art director at Doulton’s Burslem factory.

A great find and thank you for sharing. Another undiscovered colourway can be ticked off the list! Here are some pictures of Katharine for you to see her in all her glory.

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How to recognise a prototype…

One of the most heart stopping moments for any collector is the moment they hope that they have spotted a prototype figure. The hunt for prototypes is, however, a real mine field as there are always unscrupulous people out there wanting to cash in on our desire for that one special piece for our collections. That is why my advice is always to buy from a reputable dealer with a proven track record for discovering and supplying the unusual!

I have recently been asked for advice from Karyn and Gordon Harvey on the figure below from their collection, purchased recently and something they hope is a prototype. Here are the pictures they sent in.

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My initial thoughts were that it was clearly a Peggy Davies figure; note the style of the head and the hair and also the detailed modelling. At this time I think she really was trying to imitate Harradine, before developing her own individual style. The head and hair are very reminicent to her figures The Leisure Hour and also Promenade.  One give away to any unknown figure is always the face – I once heard that only after 10 years in the figure department would a painter be allowed to paint faces! Here we can see a very typical Doulton face of the 1950’s. Then we look at the base, and whilst there is a Doulton stamp – this cannot be taken in isolation to say for definite that it is a Doulton figure. However, here you can clearly see an impressed model number. Alas the shape books and design books are no longer available for us to consult, but through my own research I have put together a numbering sequence which leads me to believe that the model dates from the early 1950’s, and specificially to ca. 1953 and I am confident in saying that it is a Doulton piece.

Many prototypes from this time appear to be the work of Peggy Davies, a time when Doulton themselves were trying to rationalise production but also manage the cost effective production of their famous figures. No doubt this particular piece was deemed too expensive to reproduce due to the detailed modelling.

Earlier prototypes and colourways often carry the artist who painted them’s initials. In my experience there are two names which crop up time and again here, and they are RB for Reginald Brown and HA for Harry Allen. This practice seems to have stopped in the 1950’s however when the painter’s initials began to be omitted.

In recent times I have noticed a whole hoard of so-called colourways and prototypes coming on to the market – and all I can do is re-iterate my belief that it is always best to buy from a reputable dealer as we would all hate to loose out on a fake!

My thanks to Karyn and Gordon Harvey for their pictures.

Leslie Harradine – Part 1 The early Lambeth years

Leslie Harradine – Part 1 The early Lambeth years

Much has been written about Leslie Harradine over the decades since the resurgence of interest in Doulton art wares. Whilst acknowledging the great contribution other authors have made, I hope to settle a few inconsistencies and misnomers over the coming articles about this most versatile of home grown Doulton artists. I am of course indebted to my late friend Jocelyn Lukins, for whom Harradine became something of a passion as she researched his life over many decades, actually meeting a daughter of his, from his second of three marriages, and her son who bought examples of Harradine’s work from her.

Arthur Leslie Harradine was born in 1887 in Clapham, London, the son of a solicitor. In 1902 at the age of 15 he began an apprenticeship at Doulton as a learner modeller under the tutelage of George Tinworth and John Broad, although he also assisted Mark Marshall and Frank Pope at this time too. He would late remark about his experiences at this point in his life that he wished ‘he (Tinworth) would give up those dreary religious plaques and concentrate on mice and frogs’. Perhaps providing us with a clue not only into his own artistic preferences but also into his personal beliefs too.

During this early training Harradine attended evening classes at Camberwell School of Art under Albert Toft, who ironically would provide the model W. S. Penley as Charley’s Aunt HN35 to what would become the HN collection, that Harradine himself would influence so dramatically only a few years later.

In 1908 suffering from the confines of factory life, Harradine left Doulton at the end of his apprenticeship and unexpectedly set up as a poultry farmer in Hertfordshire with his brother Percy. Naturally he set up a studio there and continued the link with Doulton by sending in over eighty different models for them to reproduce as slip cast art ware. The list of items sent varied from figure groups to vases to child figures. These early piece demonstrated perfectly his ability to interpret people from all walks of life and all cultures.

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Three examples of Harradine’s early work for Lambeth

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Doulton’s art ware production was curtailed and so Harradine decided to emigrate to Canada with his brother, where they acquired 4000 acres of farming land in Saskatchewan. The open spaces suited both brothers and Harradine continued to model pieces but alas could not fire them. In 1916 the brothers enlisted into a Canadian regiment, Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment and saw action in France. Leslie had three horses shot from under him and unfortunately the last fell on him, injuring his leg, resulting in his being ‘invalided out’ after long spells in hospitals convalescing.

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Two of Harradine’s large size Dickens figures made at Lambeth

By the end of the war family life had added a new dimension to his bohemian life. With a wife and a daughter, with two more daughters to follow, Harradine became a freelance artist to support his young family; continuing to do models for Doulton’s Lambeth works.

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Mr Micawber made at Lambeth. The brown glazed version is much more unusual, although perhaps less popular than the usual white glazed figure

And so the first chapter of Harradine’s association with Doulton comes to a close. In the next we will look at how new links were established with Doulton at Burselm and the great influence he made on the HN collection for Doulton.