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W S Penley as CHARLEY’S AUNT (second version)  Issued in 1930 H. Fenton


The contempory theatre greatly influence Noke’s figurine range. W S Penley was popular in his role in Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, where he plays an Oxford undergraduate who impersonates an “Aunt from Brazil” who is to act as chaperone to some young ladies  he and his friends wish to entertain. Charley’s Aunt ran for 1,466 performances after opening in 1913. On various anniversaries ladies in the audience were presented with a Doulton figurine of the main character commissioned by the author Brandon Thomas. About 500 – 600 of this commissioned figure were given away, together with a range of other souvenirs of the performances like those in the advert above. Early in his career in 1916, Noel Coward played the part of Charley.



A contemporary picture and version 2 of this unusual figure, modeled in an identical post and holding a cup of tea.


The figure was modelled by Albert Toft (1862 – 1949 ) who taught Leslie Harradine at Camberwell School of Art at evening classes when he was completing his apprenticeship at Doulton Lambeth. Toft  himself had studied at Stoke on Trent and  later at the Royal College of Art.

Tinkle Bell’s inspiration – another one that didn’t make the final cut…

Another picture for you all to add to your lists of pictures that inspired figures is this charming child study by  an unknown artist ‘Pieperhoff’.

As Jocelyn and I were selecting the themes we would include in our book Reflections: Doulton Figures as a Mirror of their Times, it was inevitable that we could not include everything we had found.

Typical of this time, many unknown artists’ work was used for greetings cards, in a similar vein to those published by Raphael Tuck and Valentine & Co. that we have already looked at.



Pieperhoff’s sentimental child study that inspired Tinkle Bell HN1677 below.


This particular illustration was clearly popular at the time (1930’s) as it can be found relatively readily and I have a miniature and a larger (30cm by 20cm) version.

Doulton’s miniature piglets


Animals have always been popular amongst Royal Doulton collectors and one particularly popular set are the six mini piglets pictured here. Introduced in 1959 and withdrawn in 1967 they can be found but not readily thus making them a popular collecting theme. The piglets are all modelled I a grassy base and fortunately three face to the right and three to the left allowing us to create a nice display when we find all six!
The six piglets range in height from 1-2inches and were all modelled by a young Peggy Davies.

Royal Doulton’s wigged ladies (and gents too!)

We all know that Royal Doulton is famous for it’s bonneted ladies, but there is another theme that is popular amongst collectors, namely ladies with powdered white wigs.

English history is the source of many figures in the HN range and as with all figures so-called artistic license was used in abundance. Figure collectors the world over very often focus on one or two areas to focus their collecting and the Regency period offers collectors some of the best examples of Royal Doulton figures.

The Regency period in English history is a difficult period to date precisely and when one recalls the towering powdered wigs and cumbersome, elaborate dresses, we are actually thinking of the late Georgian and early Regency Periods. Royal Doulton has paid homage to this period on several occasions since A Lady of Georgian Period HN41 in 1914. Leslie Harradine was one of its greatest champions and his first figure from this period in English History is Tête à Tête HN799 which portrays a gentleman in typically long coat with wide cuffs, powdered wig and heeled shoes. The lady whose attention he is so assiduously seeking is sat wearing a powdered wig and low cut, elaborate dress. The obvious French name of the group, together with the costume, confirm that this and several later pieces were actually based on the French Regency Period.


Tête à Tête.

The Courtier HN1338 was the next figure in this style to be introduced and is seen here in his wig and elaborate costume including lace collars, heeled boots and lace tops on his boot hose.


The Courtier.

Other figures soon followed including Eugene HN1521 and Lisette HN1524 both seen here in outfits again more reminiscent of the time of Louis XVI of France with their gowns looped up and both holding a fan. Two further French inspired figures followed swiftly as collectors clamoured for this style of figure. Camille HN1586 and Fleurette HN1587 are very much in this style, although Camille is actually based on a Stanislaus Longley picture from the 1930’s.



Harradine’s Regency HN1752 is very much true to its name and is a precise reflection of her time, with her stylish riding outfit, riding crop and tricorn hat. In the same year, 1936, The Court Shoemaker HN 1755 was introduced. Whilst the focus of the figure is undoubtedly the lady, we get an accurate glimpse of a servant’s attire in the shoemaker, with his simplified costume.


In the immediate post-war years after 1945 Peggy Davies again presented two figures in this style, namely Hermione HN2068 and Georgiana HN2093, both of whom are elaborate in style and expertly researched and executed as all of Peggy’s figures were. A final piece to mention here is Promenade HN2076. The sheer complexity of this figure must have made this piece particularly difficult to produce and this no doubt accounts for its scarcity today. Once more Peggy’s research is second to none and both figures are presented in costumes from ca. 1700 taken directly from fashion illustrations.



On first glance themes amongst the many figures introduced over the last century are not always apparent, but rest assured others do run through the HN collection and they provide an excellent basis on which to form a collection or even a display.

As always, thank you to Seaway China for the use of their pictures!

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Royal Doulton Flambé – the King of Egyptian commemoratives

Royal Doulton always followed the mantra of offering something for everyone and this certainly rings true when you consider the variety of wares produced over the last 100 years to commemorate Egypt’s great history.

From seriesware such as Tutenkhamen’s Treasures series, to handpainted desert scene pieces, to Flambé pieces, to figures ….. here once again there is something for everyone.

As a child I remember being fascinated by all things Egyptian – a study whilst at school, a trip to museums with grandparents…all fuelled this mania. This mania gripped the world in the early 1920’s with the discovery of this now world famous tomb and Doulton was at the front of the queue to produce commemorative pieces for this event.

One of the most striking series Doulton produced is the Flambé range of wares, featuring  pyramids, the sphinx and numerous other desert scenes. Here are a selection of pieces for you to enjoy!


A striking 14″ vase with a variety of scenes from Cairo.


The same vase on the left, together with two variations of Egyptian scenes to suit the shapes of their respective vases.

Early Doulton blue and white handpainted ware

This is a little recognised area of collecting yet, they show the great potential Doulton of Burslem showed at the end of the 19th Century. There is very little to explain other than these pieces typically cover castles or other monuments such as Durham Cathedral pictured on the tallest of the vases (14″ tall).


These pieces can be bought relatively inexpensively, as many I presume imagine them to be transferware rather than handpainted pieces.


There is no special backstamp to these pieces as you can see from the image above, yet each carries the name of the subject to the body, save the Durham Cathedral piece which is titled to the base.


These rather simplistic designs particularly appeal, especially given the time they were produced when tastes were much more frivalous and over the top!


Collecting Royal Doulton M series figures

It has been a while since any new light was shed on Doulton’s first set of miniatures, so I thought it time to address this!


A page from a catalogue from 1933.

Collectors always looking for the unusual will be pleased to see these original boxes for the M series. They are all typically Art Deco in decoration and there appears to be just three styles of decoration. These little boxes were included in the advertising for the M series as a selling point yet very few exist today, unfortunately!


A group of original boxes in two of the three designs used.


Chloe sitting in her original packaging within her box.

Whilst miniatures offer collectors the opportunity to collect even more figures due to their size, collectors around the world do specialise in just these figures. Like their larger counterparts occasionally colourways turn up and of course like all figures some are more sought after than others.


A striking version of the miniature Polly Peachum

This area of collecting really does offer us bargains as more common figures such as the Paisley Shawl for example are relatively inexpensive at the moment. Yet the quality so typical of Doulton figures is echoed in this range with their miniature faces and exquisite decoration. Even in their hey day Doulton advertised them as being of ‘diminuative’ price too!


The Paisley Shawl next to her original box and complete with original sticker.

Doulton’s range of M figures were available mounted on calendars, pen holders, pin trays… The list is endless! However, the top London jewellers such as Asprey had them mounted with sterling silver fittings and these top make pieces are the most popular today.


A quality desk calendar with another Polly Peachum.

Whatever your tastes and needs, as always Doulton had something for everyone and thus established a strong buying base with collectors around the world. As Henry Doulton once said it was easier to sell something expensive but of better quality than something cheaper and of lesser quality!


And finally a recent find, looking very smart the Crinoline Lady atop a pin dish.

So why not start a collection of these charming miniature figures and have fun deciding how to display them yourselves!