Between 1977 and 1982 Royal Doulton released this selection of twelve dancers of the world, each in a limited edition of 750. As with all of Peggy’s figures, the range proved highly popular and collectors today are equally enthralled by the movement and spirit they embody. Interestingly, it was not Peggy but in fact Bill Harper who originally suggested theseries and he even produced two figures before the concept was completed by Peggy. These exquisitely researched and executed figures represent all four corners of the world: Africa, America, Asia and Europe.
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.
If the 1920’s were typified by ‘Putting on the ritz’ then the 1930’s were about sleek lines and glamour.
Typically, Doulton once again responded to the fashion of the times with a handful of designs inspired straight out of early 1930’s fashion magazines. Indeed we know that Mrs Harradine was a fan of a magazine called Britannia & Eve, as her husband based his figure Pamela on a cover girl from 1930.
Even the names chosen for this select band of ladies represent their time, with stylish names such as Clothilde, Aileen and Gloria.
Once again Doulton figures can be truly said to have represented their times, just as they had in the 1920’s with perennial favourites such as Pierette and Butterfly in their party costumes and as they would at the end of the 1930’s with Hollywood inspired glamour including The Mirror and Nadine.
The inspiration behind many of Doulton’s earliest figures comes from contemporary paintings and such is the case with Harradine’s Helen introduced in 1932.
Helen HN 1508 with the Webster picture that inspired her.
It was not unusual for complicated figures to be re-modelled after problems arise in their manufacture or because they are too complicated to produced or simply because of market response (Consider Sweet Maid who became Millicent with a fuller skirt).
Helen HN 1572 (1933) and June HN 1947 (1940).
Thus Helen became the popular figure June HN 1690 (1935) with an altered skirt and now holding a bouquet of flowers, which was again re-issued after WWII in slightly more muted tones and simplified flowers and detail to the modelling.
The original three: HN 1690, 1691 and 1947.
The withdrawal dates for the figure Helen say ‘by 1938’ but we can presume that the production was actually much shorter based on the fact that June was introduced in 1935 and I certainly haven’t seen any ‘Helens’ dated after 1934 – but perhaps you have? If so, why not share her with us on our facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’!
Who doesn’t love matching colourways? We’ve looks at matching reds, pinks, blues, greens and even oranges, but here are three other early figures you’ll be dotty about!
Sibell HN 1735.
After writing the Kate Hardcastle piece on Monday I recalled these spotted beauties and lamented how I’d never managed to find all three at the same time!
Kate Hardcastle HN 1734.
Just as other groups, their HN numbers are in the same number range, but this time they are chronological if you take a second look!
With such vivid colours and an unmistakable design this group may not be to everyone’s taste but they are super rare!
Eugene HN1521, Fleurette HN1587 and Lisette HN1524.
Whatever you particular interest in Doulton figures you soon realise that themes do occur within collections, such as those ladies with feet popping out under the hems of skirts or those carrying parasols.
Another theme are the bevy of beauties teasing their admirers with their colourful fans.
Miranda HN1818 and Mariquita HN1837.
With a history stretching back over 3000 years, it is the fans of the 18th and 19th centuries that typically appear on Doulton ladies. First seen here when merchants from Asia returned with them, those appearing on Doulton ladies are the folding type – again a relatively modern adaptation of the traditional fixed type.
Perhaps you collect figures according to a different theme? If so why not share them on our facebook page – Doulton Collectors Club!
I’ve just had some extra pictures of the current exhibition at the WMODA housed at the Gallery of Amazing Things that I thought would interest us all!
The sheer breadth of exhibits is to be marvelled but for me it is the massive array of Doulton wares that interests me most!
Here are a few pictures of the figures currently on display as part of the Flair for Fashion exhibition! Enjoy!!
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Collecting ‘themes’ is something we look at sporadically but often it is only on reflection that we – or should I say I – realise that we already have a sub-theme already in our collections. This was certainly the case with these Doulton ladies in riding costume!
I have to admit that I don’t have them displayed as a group, but that is simply because they have been gathered over time and they’ve ‘slotted’ in as and where I can! However, I did find that I had one of my favourites, the Hunts Lady, standing ironically next to a fox!
Perhaps I’ll find somewhere to have them as a group now, next time I move things around!
After the roaring twenties, the 1930’s developed into a decade of glamour where long, sleek lines and Hollywood glamour took over. Whilst Doulton continued to produced the Victorian style ladies, characters and child studies so favoured by collectors, there were a distinct group of glamour girls which were introduced as a nod to this change in style.
Two of the first introduced, also happen to be two favourites of mine – Clothilde and Gloria, who appear to have stepped straight out if the pages of a glossy fashion magazine.
Hats have always been a popular theme for collectors, so it is no surprise to see Windflower here with her contemporary brimmed hat.
Another hat girl is Nadine, who could be promenading along a boardwalk in the evening sun, lapping up attention from her would-be admirers.
Still other ladies seem to represent popular sports such as the stylish Maureen with her riding crop.
Another favourite figure of mine is this, The Mirror, with her chic dressing gown, admiring her reflection in her mirror. She is such a delicate figure it is not hard to see why so few have survived.
A final figure that I’d like to share is the stunning Lambeth Walk, shown dancing to the famous tune of the same name. Her clothes are the epitome of 1930’s chic and this colourway of her is so detailed.
With the turn of the Twentieth Century there came a real change in fashion and also saw the rise of Haute Couture from Paris, France. Notably it also saw the demise of the ‘S’ shape corset for a more graceful and elegant look with straighter lines and raised waistlines.
When Leslie Harradine first began sending his models to Burslem for approval we see not only a great talent but also an artist who is able to tap into popular movements; namely fashion. With Harradine’s involvement, the HN collection really came into its own and at last gained the popularity Charles Noke had hitherto been striving for, for his renaissance in Staffordshire figure production that he had first attempted in the late 19th Century with his Vellum figures. Harradine’s first figure was the elegant The Princess HN391 inspired by costumes by the great costumier Leon Bakst for contemporary ballets. She was followed by a steady stream of other similar ladies including Tulips, also by Harradine, but other ladies including The Necklace and The Bouquet both by George Lambert also reflect this style.
The Gainsborough Hat.
There are earlier examples of this style, namely Tittensor’s Gainsborough Hat introduced in 1915 in 9 different colourways again reflecting not only fashionable styles but also popular fabrics that included many differently patterned fabrics being used together. There were a handful of figures which reflected this mix of fabrics, a favourite of mine is this version of Contentment by Harradine.
Fashion has always played an important role in the HN collection, perhaps you arrange your displays accordingly? If so why not share some pictures with us on our Facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’!