Prototypes and colourways have been the subject of previous articles, but I thought you all might like to see these few pictures I have come across of figure evaluation events. Typically these occurred in the US and Canada during the 1960’s-80’s.
At first security at such events appears to have been lax with figures ‘escaping’ during their travels, but as time went on Doulton began to appreciate what value these survey pieces had and storage even at the factory improved greatly. Indeed, Doulton ‘sat’ on prototypes for many years, sometimes decades as with the figure Elizabeth HN2465 from 1970 that was only out into production in 1990 or the handful of Mary Nicoll ladies such as Lesley that appeared many years after their original production. You can see some of these figures in the pictures shown here on this page.
The majority of prototypes that turn up appear to be from the 1940’s onwards, indicating that the majority of models produced before this time were put into production – the length of production indicating popularity. Yet, earlier prototypes do turn up and whilst I have heard people say that all Harradine’s models went into production, this is not the case as even his models faced heavy scrutiny after 1940 and began not to go into production but would face market surveys.
Not the best illustration but a lovely colourway of a favourite prototype by Mary Nicoll from 1971, titled ‘Smith minor’ right at the front of the picture. A figure of a young boy off to school sat on his trunk and holding his cricket bat.
Perhaps you have a survey figure in your collection? If so we would love to hear from you and why not post a picture to our Facebook page ‘Doulton Collectors Club’!