Category Archives: Doulton

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.

Royal Doulton’s Figure Darling – where it all began!

Or rather where the then new figure range began in 1913 – is perhaps how that heading should read.

Darling in his original size with HN 1 at the fore, the HN 1371 and of course the more frequently found HN 1319.

In reality Darling was not the first figure in the HN collection but due to Queen Mary’s famous christening of him with her statement “Isn’t he a darling” – he was given the prestigious number 1 in the new number sequence.

Typical early base, this time belonging to HN 1. Note the actual number of figures painted on the inside ‘349’!

Designed by Charles Vyse who would later inspire Doulton’s famous balloon sellers, Darling was produced in his original size of 19cm in four colourways – HN 1 in a pale blue grey nightshirt, HN 1319 in a white nightshirt with black base and then HN 1371 and 1372 in green and pink nightshirts respectively and both with black bases. Of all these originally size models it is HN 1371 and 1372 which are the particularly rare examples.

In the post WWII period Darling was remodelled in the now smaller and most familiar size of 13cm as HN 1945 and remained in production as such until 1997. A lovely additional version of him HN 3613 for Peter Jones the China specialist was introduced to mirror the original HN 1 colouring in 1993.

Only one further model of this charming young boy has been produced and that was for Royal Doulton’s 200th Anniversary Icons series as HN 5648 in a smaller size again of 10cm!

The now mid size Darling HN 3613 with his smaller Icons series counterpart HN 5648, pictured against the first figure booklet from 1913. Note the reference to Queen Mary and ‘Now at Buckingham Palace’! 

All in all Darling proved to be the first of one of Royal Doulton’s most popular collecting themes when it comes to figures – children! 

Collecting Doulton Brangwyn ware. 

Brangwyn ware 1930-40Both Nokes, Charles and then Cecil, were men ahead of their time, constantly on the search for something new and thus Doulton approached Frank Brangwyn R. A. to design a range of tableware and other designs for them. 

  
Fruit bowl and soap dish with Brangwyn designs.

Originally intended to offer to the masses quality china at a reasonable price, the designs proved unpopular at the time among the buying public and as always the rarity of this ware has meant that it has become very collectable since then. Interestingly critics of the time hailed Doulton’s new ware as the pinnacle of ceramic ‘mass’ production. 

  
Two colourings of dinner plates available l is D5033 and r is D5221.

In addition to tableware designs, Brangwyn’s designs can also be found on various vases which are equally popular today. This ware carries one of two backstamps, the first ‘Designed by Frank Brangwyn’ and also ‘Brangwynware’ a Doulton pastiche. 

  
Three classic Brangwynware vases. Tallest is 12″.

In addition, once again Doulton’s in-house designers produced similar designs to the official Brangwyn designs and these carry a D number.

A quick guide to dating Doulton’s Dickens figures! 

Leslie Harradine’s collection of Dickens miniature figures still bring collectors much joy although they have been out of production since the early 1980’s. 

Collectors tend to focus their collecting on either the early bone china models with their thinner bases or else those made in earthenware after 1949 with their deeper bases.

However there are a few tips to dating the early models that I thought I would share. 

  
This is the earliest stamp with simply the word Doulton printed in an arc.

  

This is the second mark from the late 1920’s. A second version of this can be dated to after 1930 when the names of the figures were also included.

  

Finally a post 1949 example with standard Doulton mark. 

To finish here are three examples of Micawber: an early 1920’s example on a marble tray, the unusual Woodall Duckham commemorative from 1930 and Harradine’s original model for the study. You can see the thickness of the base increasing steadily even between the early 1920 example and the 1930 example. 

 

Seasonal changes with Doulton figures! 

  
Cover of a catalogue featuring Summer Serenade.

One of several classic sets of four seasons figures produced by Royal Doulton is this set made exclusively for the Guild of China and Glass Retailers to which Doulton belonged. 

  

Catalogue page from 1993. 

Three existing models by the legendary Peggy Davies and one model from Peter Gee were given a colourful re-incarnation to become part of this series. 

Thus…

Danielle HN 3001 became Spring Song HN

Beatrice HN 3263 became Summer Serenade HN 3610

Michelle HN 2334 became Autumn Attraction HN 3612

And

Caroline HN 3170 became winter welcome HN 3611.

  
Autumn Attraction and Winter Welcome. 

For collectors it is the Doulton ‘colouring’ of these popular models that set them apart from the originals which were typically very modestly decorated and for me too that makes them instantly more attractive! 

Collecting Doulton’s Coaching Days seriesware pattern.

One of Doulton’s most popular seriesware lines remains their Coaching Days series. Introduced in 1905 and finally withdrawn in 1955, examples from this series can be found but earlier shapes and ceramic bodies make certain pieces more sought after! 

  
Earthenware was the typical body but examples can be found on a china body. The series was originally designed by Victor Venner between c.1904-1924, with unknown others contributing designs too. 

  
With 20 recorded scenes and a multitude of shapes that the series can be found on, this series provides much scope for collectors to assemble an impressive display. Above is a pin tray from my own collection. 

Unusual scenes do turn up such as the one on the small pie crust dish. Labelled as E3804, it is an unusual find and on china too, hence the E number.  

 

Examples of Coaching Days are easily confused with both ‘Royal Mail’ and ‘Hunting John Peel’ scenes and do display well together! 

Collecting Doulton leatherware and blackjacks!

  
Two blackjacks with silver collars dating them to 1891 and 1900.

These simulated blackjacks and other items date from 1887-c. 1914 and are realistic to the eye with stitching and also the imitation of various types of leather. 

  
Leatherware motto jugs and drinking cups.

These wares, typically jugs, can be found with applied mottos again in imitation stitching and were considered to be of sufficient quality to be produced with silver mounts too. 

  
Rare copper and leatherware jug.

Rarely examples of Leatherware and Copperware have been found used together, the two colours making a striking contrast.

  
Unusual nursery jug with elaborate silver collar from 1905.

Novelty items can also be found including a match holder and this children’s mug featuring the rhyme ‘Tom, Tom the piper’s son’.