Category Archives: Leslie Harradine

Royal Doulton’s very own Darby and Joan

We are all no doubt familiar with the archetypical image of an old couple living out their time together quite contentedly and of course that is where the label ‘Darby and Joan’ originates.

Royal Doulton’s great modeller Leslie Harradine will certainly have been familiar with the many paintings and images of this famous pair including this image….

…with its stark similarities to his figures. As you can see both Harradine’s figures and the figures in the painting are dressed in 18C dress and it is from this time that the saying was in common use.

Darby HN 1427 and Joan HN 1422, both dates 1930.

This charming pair were introduced in 1930 and withdrawn at some point during WWII, before being reintroduced with a band of their most popular figures with a new HN number and paired down detail in the modelling. The latter were in production from 1949-59.

Royal Doulton’s Pierette

An early colourway of Pierette

The 1920s and 1930s were the age of the Pierrot. In 1923 Gertrude Lawrence sang Parisian Pierrot in Noël Coward’s revue ‘London Calling’, during the same era JB Priestly wrote a popular book about a Pierrot concert party called The Good Companions with the late Sir John Gielgud as the romantic Lead and there was even a Pierrot themed variety show which ran for 500 performances between 1921-1926.

Yet, it wasn’t just on stage that this phenomenon could be seen. During this time advertising was littered with Pierrots extolling the virtues of particular brands including Tom Smith’s crackers and even Kiwi Boot Polish, which even today is a brand we may be familiar with.

Royal Doulton naturally cottoned on to this trend and their then leading modeller, Leslie Harradine, certainly had his finger on the pulse of this popular trend with his wonderful study Pierette.

HN 731, 642, 643, 644 and 721.

Originally introduced as an 18cm Figure (model 445) and available in no less than eight different colourways, she was later introduced in a larger size in earthenware as HN 1391 (1930) and again later as HN 1749 (1936) and measuring 23cm. There is a lesser known third version of Pierette, this time in miniature. Never officially produced as part of the HN or M collections, she occasionally turns up to delight collectors. A most unusual flambé version of the miniature Pierrette has also been found.

Versions 1 and 3 HN 644 and 1391

As with all Royal Doulton figures the shorter the production run, the more sought after the figure today. Although HN 644 eventually turns up the other colourways and sizes of her are more difficult to find.

HN 1391 and 1749

Happy hunting!

For those interested in the origins of Royal Doulton figures I can recommend Reflections by Jocelyn Lukins and Christopher Evans.

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.

Collecting Royal Doulton child studies.

When we think of Doulton many think immediately of pretty ladies and young girls in crinolines, yet here is another collecting theme although generally much harder to track down.  

These studies of boys by Doulton were the work of Leslie Harradine and date to the late 1920’s through to the 1950’s. Although there are only a handful of male figures, if you have the patience to track them down they make a complimentary display to their female counterparts! 

The popularity of child studies has long been a favoured collecting field for Doulton enthusiasts, once again bourne out by the enduring popularity of HN1 Darling – a Charles  Vyse study of a boy in his nightgown modelled after his Chelsea original and introduced in his original size in 1913. 

Doulton’s Dutch Masterpieces.

We have looked at some popular Dutch themes already, but I love a collecting and indeed display theme so it is time to look at it a new!

A mixture of the popular and unusual Doulton Dutch Seriesware patterns and shapes. 

The wonder of Seriesware is that it offers something for every collector – for new collectors there are many familiar faces to collect and for the die hard collector you never quite know what will turn up! 

Four pin dishes illustrating the variety of seriesware that can be found! 

There was even a version of this popular theme created specially for Liberty of London with a blue sky. 

Two colourways of popular 1930’s Dutch figures Annette and Gretchen, and an illustration showing the popularity of all things Dutch in the early 20th Century.

Even well into the 1930’s Doulton were producing their Dutch figures such as Gretchen and Derrick and a glimpse through catalogues and adverts for major stores including Liberty of London, proves the then popularity of all things Dutch with page after page of Dutch inspired decorative items for the home.  


The popular pair Gretchen and Derrick.

Collectors show great invention when displaying their collections and whilst some mix seriesware and figures excellently, others rely on illustrations to emphasise the theme they are creating, such as the picture below by AK Macdonald, who inspired a small group of Leslie Harradine’s figures in the 1930’s. 


Perhaps you arrange your collection in a particular way? If so why not share it with us on our Doulton Collectors Club facebook page! 

Harradine’s first models for the HN collection.

No one today can doubt that Leslie Harradine perfected what needed to be perfected in terms of creating commercially popular figures for Royal Doulton.  Until 1920 few figures hitherto introduced can be said to have had the popularity we associate with Doulton figures to this day. Of course there was the ever popular HN1 Darling – the first figure in the collection and the first of many child studies, but there were no what non-Doulton specialists might term ‘pretty ladies’. The female studies introduced before 1920 tended to be sculptural and their differing sizes hindered their grouping to display them as a collection. In short a house style needed to be developed. 

Harradine’s first introduction for the HN collection was The Princess – a dramatically stylish creation that set the tone for his first models for Charles Noke. Note the clear lines and unfussy detail – this is what set him and his models apart. 

A colourway of The Princess.

A small group of other non typical Doulton figures were introduced in the following year, 1921 illustrating Harradine’s ability to interpret popular tastes and trends. 

A group of early Harradine models, Fruit Gathering, Puff & Powder, Betty and Contentment.

Size was the most noticeable difference with Harradine’s figures as they diminished in size to what we even today are used to in terms of figure height, and this more standard size allowed collectors to create displays. 

Harradine’s first series of figures from the Beggar’s Opera all illustrate this point and thus a house style was developed –  something that would prove most successful among collectors whose appetite for figures is still going strong over 100 years later.

A look back at Royal Doulton’s iconic Top o’ the hill!

Without doubt Top o’ the hill remains Doulton’s most instantly recognisable figure. Since her introduction in 1937, Leslie Harradine’s ever popular figure has been used as a demonstration piece at exhibitions and it was great to see this tradition continue at the recent ICGF in Florida.

Doulton’s figure was based on a picture by Molly Benatar (illustrated) whose rights for reproduction in china were bought exclusively by Doulton. Not a bad investment on Doulton’s part given her lengthy production.


Interestingly, from a collector’s point of view are the subtle changes to her over the years. The figures illustrated all date to 1937 and 1938 and are the original 3 colourways. Changes to her have included a deeper base, less detailed, delicate frills to her underskirt and a thicker brim to her hat – all of which were invariably made in response to collectors’ feedback as these early versions are all very fragile.

Another interesting note is the difference that occured in painting during the war years to the red version. HN1834 originally had blue streaks as many red figures from this time did, but after Doulton began producing figures again after the war, she became a solid red. Another change occurred in the 1950’s when she was modelled with an elongated face, no doubt a change to then fashions. This change was later reversed and I doubt people even realised there had been a change!

In more recent times there have been other colourways of this iconic figure introduced, including a yellow and green one HN2127 for Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988 and a deep blue one HN3735 in 1997. A miniature was also made in a few colourways including the popular red in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Most recently a petite size has also been introduced.

An early colour trial for Harradine’s ‘Karen’.

Always on the look out for the unusual I recently spotted this colour trial for Karen HN1994 that was eventually produced in a red colourway. It is the second time I’ve seen her in black suggesting that this black and white version was a serious consideration and must have done the rounds both sides of the Atlantic to garner her popularity prior to production.

Like many models introduced just after the war, Doulton held any war time introductions back until the war was over in 1945. The model for Karen (no.1237) dates to ca.1943, whereas the figure produced as HN1994 was introduced in 1947 and withdrawn in 1955.
Another nice feature is the crispness of the modelling in the black and white version, that you can hopefully make out from the picture.

Collecting Doulton’s ‘powder and patch’ ladies!

Another collecting them for Doulton figures is the band of figures in elaborate, powdered wigs.

With Doulton’s re-newed association with the modeller Leslie Harradine (who was originally apprenticed to Doulton in Lambeth) from 1920, came the commercial success Doulton had sought for the previous decade. Harradine’s versatile style meant that every possible type of china figure was created – from miniature Dickens characters, to deco beauties, to the archetypal Victorian lady, to child studies – to name but a few themes.

However, during the roaring 1920’s with its synonymous flapper girls there was also a vogue for fancy dress balls, which explains why there are so many of these romantic figures wearing 17th and 18th Century costumes in the HN collection, during the 1920’s and 30’s.
These charming figures sit equally well with their contemporaries as they do with other Doulton figures from the deco period!


Perhaps you display your figures according to themes? If so, join our Facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’ to share them with other collectors around the world!

Collecting Doulton figures – the best things come in 3’s!

Harradine’s Veronica in all 3 sizes and identical colourways as HN1517, HN1915 and M64.

With Leslie Harradine’s models for the HN Collection, Doulton certainly hit the jackpot! His ‘large’ size figures proved so popular that many were re-modelled for the M Collection when it was introduced in 1932, with further additions to it based on larger figures throughout the 1930’s. Then in the late 1930’s mid size versions of three popular figures were introduced, namely Veronica, the Paisley Shawl and Janet.

The Paisley Shawl in 3 available sizes HN1707, HN1914 and M3.

Unlike Veronica above, the other two Harradine figures modelled in 3 sizes were not produced in complimentary colourways. The most that can be said is that both the Paisley Shawl HN1392 and HN1988, together with both Janet’s HN1537 and HN1964 are identical in both sizes, but not in the third.

Janet in 3 sizes and all different colourways HN1538, HN1916 and M69.

All three figures were produced in many colourways, yet only the three Veronicas can be said to ‘match’. Whether one displays these figures together as a group together or separately, each is regarded as a classic Harradine model today!