Category Archives: Figure Articles

Royal Doulton’s Newhaven Fishwife.

The Royal Doulton figure Newhaven Fishwife HN 1480 is like so many of their period street sellers and character figures, based closely on real life. The Scottish fishwives of Newhaven had a reputation for their beauty and industry. They were hard-bargainers though, and all the fishermen of the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh, Scotland, brought their catches to Newhaven for the fishwives to sell in Edinburgh city. 
Just like the Doulton figure, the fishwives of Newhaven wore distinctive costumes of layers of colourfully striped petticoats with a muslin cap or other similar headdress, together with a scarf, the tassels of which you can make out in the picture and also around the neck of the figure itself. Their fish, including haddock and herring, were carried on their backs in creels, again just like the figure.  

The Newhaven Fishwife although introduced in the 1930s, was not a Leslie Harradine figure, but a model by Harry Fenton, more famously associated today with Doulton’s Character Jugs. She is recorded as having been produced between 1931-37, however, her scarcity reinforces the reality that many figures were made to order rather than being readily available. 


Royal Doulton’s celebration of St George.

  St George HN 2067.

England’s patron saint is celebrated annually with St George’s Day on the 23rd April. Symbolic references to him and the story of his slaying a dragon can be found throughout Bristish life: his cross forms the national flag of England, also it features within the union flag of the United Kingdom and is also contained with other flags containing the Union Flag such as New Zealand’s and Australia’s.

England’s patron saint can be traced back through history to before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and it is recorded that by the 14thC St George had been declared England’s patron saint and protector of Royalty!
 Doulton advert for their Festival of Britain stand 1951.

 Doulton’s first figure model of St George (above) introduced as HN 385 was by Stanley Thorogood and was based on an earlier study by the artist from 1915.

 St George by Peggy Davies 1950-85.
Doulton have produced the figures above as well as featured him in other popular lines produced including their Bunnykins range. 

Bunnykins St George.


Collecting Royal Doulton’s seasoned characters! 

Granny’s Heritage HN 1873.
Everyone looks forward to that time in our lives when things slow down a little and we imagine that we will have time to enjoy the finer things in life! This perhaps explains collectors’ fascination with what we might term the ‘older generation’.

The very rare Granny HN 1804.

From the 1920’s Royal Doulton have been producing older characters as part of their famous HN range of figures in recognition of this basic sentiment.

A Gentlewoman HN 1632.

Whether it be the famous impoverished Old Balloon Seller or 1930’s figures such as Darby and Joan, A Gentlewoman or Granny all of whom are portrayed in aged contentment knitting, enjoying some snuff, serving tea or out and about! All the things we imagine that we may have done generations before now.

Gaffer HN 2053.

Respect and affection appear to be the watchwords with these characters with names such as Grandma and Gaffer being used over time. The term Gaffer of course referring to a boss or older man.

Past Glory HN 2484.

This reverence for the older generation also explains figures such as Past Glory HN 2484, Takings Things Easy HN 2677 and Stitch in Time HN 2352.

Taking Things Easy HN 2677.

Displayed as part of a group of elder characters or among more typical figures, each tells a tale of its own and it is perhaps for this reason that even today we fill our homes with these gentle characters!

A Stitch in Time HN 2352.

Thanks to Seaway China for the use of their photos.

  And finally a rare Kingsware teapot with Darby and Joan to illustrate that it isn’t just figures that feature older characters!

Mirror, mirror …who is the fairest Doulton lady of them all? 

Whilst bouquets of splendid flowers, fans and ermine muffs may be what Doulton ladies are typically modelled holding, mirrors too can be found being held aloft by a small selection of figures both old and new.

 Lady Pamela HN 2718.

Camille HN 1586(L) and 1648(R).

Perhaps contrary to traditional views of what is virtuous and what is not, a figure admiring her own beauty was possibly not considered a positive trait and maybe the reason why there are so few ladies holding mirrors?

A prototype from 1940. Another variation of this lady has appeared holding a mask instead of the mirror.

Alternatively, perhaps it is the precariousness of having an arm stretched out holding a mirror that explains why so few ladies have appeared holding mirrors. Certainly when one looks at Harradine’s the Mirror you can see how fragile that little hand help mirror is!

The Mirror HN1852.

Whatever the reason it is something of a shame as the selection shown illustrate how wonderfully stylish these ladies are.

Royal Doulton’s Standing Beefeeter advertising figure.


This rather quaint figure produced in the early 1920’s is another advertising figure, but this time it’s purpose is to advertise the once popular Illustrated London News magazine. It covered all topical issues and as well as political comment, satire and stories, it also included full page prints for its readers of modern pictures. It was originally a weekly broadsheet but it move to bi-annual until it ceased production after the millennium.

The Beefeeter is a warder of the Tower of London and not a Yeoman of the Guard as is often stated. The Warder Beefeeter served the Towers prisioners and to protect the Crown Jewels but today they act more as tourist guides.

This Doulton personification of this famous London character holds an actual copy of the Illustrated London News from May 14 1842 , whose print is actually readable. Examples without any text do exist but it is the original that is most eagerly sought after.

Royal Doulton’s Lady Musicians series by Peggy Davies.

The twelve lady musicians who make up this elegant series were all modelled by the legendary Peggy Davies and the first figurine Cello was introduced in 1970 with the others progressively introduced from that year. 

Cover of a booklet produced by Doulton to advertise the new Lady Musicians series.
Another first was that these figures were the first in 50 years to carry the name of their modeller to the base in recognition of Peggy’s massive contribution to the Doulton fame.

A contemporary Australian exhibition of Peggy’s independent work.

Each of these lady musicians were produced in a limited edition of 750 pieces and were produced in a matt finish, popular at the time. The idea behind the series being that over the years an 18th Century orchestra could be built up. 

The Leader.

Typical of Peggy we can still recognise today the results of her painstaking research and technical expertise we associate with her work.

Lady Musicians HN 2795, 2798 & 2796.

Again typical of Peggy is that she decided to introduce her own figure The Leader to accompany this series under her own name to satisfy collectors’ requests. During the 18th Century it would have been more usual to have a leader rather than a conductor. 

The story of Royal Doulton’s Miss Sketch (1923).

This wonderfully detailed figure was commissioned by The Sketch magazine and consequently has no HN number or official title to her base as she was simply made for advertising purposes and not for sale to the general public. In the early years of the HN collection several advertising and publishing houses commissioned Doulton figures to advertise their products including The Perfect Pair HN581, which celebrates the amalgamation of Eve magazine and The Tatler from 1923 and another famous figure the Standing Beefeeter, which carries no official name or HN number, and who was made to advertise The Illustrated London News in 1924.

The figure of Miss Sketch appeared on the front of the magazine and Doulton’s study is a very faithful copy of this peddler lady. In her tray she carries miniature figures representing the subjects covered by the publication: a ballerina for the theatre: a jockey for sport: a cupid for love stories: a soldier for current affairs and a devil who represents devilish satire.

A letter has been discovered preserved inside of one of these rare figures. The letter from the Sketch magazine is dated 1927 and was sent presenting the winner of the magazine’s cross- word with their figurine as a prize. What a wonderful treat?

Royal Doulton’s tribute to the Elizabethan explorer Sir Walter Raleigh.

The name Sir Walter Raleigh will forever be associated with Elizabeth I and the first Elizabethan era when great fame and fortune came readily to England’s Virgin Queen. It was a time of great discoveries and of worldliness that Sir Walter contributed to.

Sir Walter Raleigh HN 1751.

Sir Walter Raleigh – poet, writer, soldier, courtier and explorer – is today recognised as one of the 100 most important people in England’s history.

A portrait of Raleigh with his son in a similar pose to the Doulton figure.

Hailing from Devon, he was a favourite of Elizabeth I at one time and was knighted by her in 1585. He was instrumental in the colonisation of North America and his explorations to Virginia paved the way for future English settlements there.

One of Doulton’s famous character hugs to the great man.


There has even been a Doulton Bunnykins made of Raleigh.

Whilst his story is a famous one, inspiration for this true to life study of him by Royal Doulton derives from a popular source of early Doulton figures, Dion Clayton Calthrop’s book on English Costume from the early 20th Century. He appears to have been modelled on the illustration shown with minor changes including the ruff around his neck.

HN 1751 and one of Calthrop’s illustrations.

From boys to men – collecting Royal Doulton’s male figures! 

Whenever people mention Doulton figures, damsels in large crinolines are what most non-collectors think of. Of course collectors know this not to be the case, but a simple look through the collectors’ bible ‘Royal Doulton Figures’ illustrates exactly how many male characters were produced over the years!

Three versions of Noke’s The Cobbler from the musical Chu-Chin-Chow which ran for a once record number of 2000 performances after opening in 1916, together with Cassim.

When the HN collection was launched in 1913 Charles Noke, Art Director, incorporated a handful of his own earlier Vellum figure studies including jesters and eastern musicians into his new collection. In addition to his own designs, he drew on other sculptors to build up interest and prestige for Doulton’s new venture. 

Where else do we need to begin than with HN 1 Darling by the renowned potter Charles Vyse, which started a popular theme of child figures into the range that has continued right up to today!

Darling (HN 1371 after the original HN 1) surrounded by later 1930’s and 1940’s boy figures. 

We have already mentioned eastern characters and there were a slew of them introduced into the early HN collection, reflecting popular interest at the time and also a love of the theatre – another major theme in the HN collection. 

Characters from literature can also be found including Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Cassim from 1001 Arabian Nights, which also influenced other introductions such as Baba and Abdullah. 


Falstaff HN 1606 (1st version). 
Doulton’s famous street sellers also feature many male characters from the familiar Balloon Man HN 1954 to the more modern Punch and Judy Man HN 2765.

Royal Doulton’s “Prestige” range contained many male subjects from Jack Point to King Charles, all of which were re-introductions with simplified decoration from the early HN Collection. 

Illustration from an early catalogue showing his original price too!

Men also feature in many of the early double figures such as The Rustic Swain, Tête-à-tête and The Court Shoemaker. Just as WWII was beginning a new handful of male figures emerged including the rare duo of The Corinthian and Regency Beau, which although attributed to Harry Fenton, it has been suggested that they may have been the idea of the great Leslie Harradine. 

The rare duo The Corinthian and Regency Beau. 

Male figures can be found across the HN range and also in the later M series when the many miniature Dickens figures were added to it too. Plus, just as with Doulton’s ladies, colourways and variations do crop up including this bone china version of Lambing Time dated 1938 and painted by Harry Allen’s expert hand. 

A bone china colourway of Lambing Time dated 1938.

 Once again whatever your particular interest there is sure to be something by Royal Doulton to satisfy your collecting habit! 


The influence behind Royal Doulton’s Classic 1930’s figurines Rosabell and Aileen.

Arthur Garratt (1873 – 1955)With works in National Collections in UK, you might expect to find more pictures of his here, however, to date there are just two. The first is Aileen HN1645 (1934 LH) and the Garratt picture ‘A sweet heart of mine’. 

The second is Rosabel HN1620 (1934 LH) and ‘Alice Blue Gown’, the title coming from two separate sources ; firstly the popular music hall song of the same name; and the second Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of the former American President. This second link here is not only in the title, the dress in the picture being Longworth’s signature colour but the picture also bears a strong resemblance to Longworth. Her exploits earned her the title ‘Alice in Plunderland’ during a trip to Asia and interestingly she would also wear a costly string of pearls a gift from the Cuban government for the rest of her life. 

Many of Garratts’ pictures feature a young lady sporting a shawl; an image which Doulton too seem to have favoured during the early Twentieth Century.