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Doulton’s most unusual glazes: Sung, Chang and Chinese Jade

Charles Noke continued to experiment with glazes long after the departure of Cuthbert Bailey with whom he had perfected the Flambé glaze in the early 1900’s. And so in 1920 Sung was introduced, whereby painted decoration, colour and gilt are fused with the a flambé glaze.

FLM_Sung Vase Ducks in Flight (Small)

A stunning Sung vase.

I am sure you will agree that these pieces are magnificent. However, it is in the flesh that these pieces must be enjoyed to full effect as in this slide. Vases, large and small were decorated with exotic birds, pixies in woodlands, fish in seascapes along with many other subjects.

FLM_Sung Owl with Owlet Wing HN160 (Small)

Sung owls.


These pieces were painted principally by Harry Nixon, Arthur Eaton and Fred Moore. Sung glazes can be found on Buddhas, as can also be seen here in this advert from the 1920’s, a handful of suitable early figures from the HN range such as A Spook, as well as animals, in particular elephants, a favourite of Charles Noke can also be found.


Orignial Sung advert ca. 1920.

FLM_Sung Foxes Curled HN117 (Small)

Sung curled foxes.

Another magnificent addition to the Burslem range in 1920 was the Chinese Jade glaze, imitating the ancient Chinese glazes of centuries before, by using a thick white glaze streaked with green. Pieces of Chinese Jade are exceptionally rare, due to the costliness of production, together with the high proportion of rejects due to the inherent difficulties in achieving this technique.


Chinese Jade lidded bowl with ‘Despair’ HN596 as the finial (the name of this figure is only a name given when the original figure book was published in 1978 as there is no record of its actual name).

A variation of this ware exists whereby the green streaks are replaced by blue ones, and this extraordinarily rare glaze is aptly named Lapisware.


A very rare Lapisware lamp base.

Another glaze worthy of inclusion here is perhaps the most magnificent of all. Chang ware was introduced in 1925 and involved a thick body upon which multi-coloured thick glazes were allowed to run and crackle – contrary to all usual pottery rules.


Original Chang catalogue cover.

The results you can see from this slide are breathtaking. Nothing like this glaze had been sen before even in ancient times, and it was greeted by worldwide acclaim. Chang pieces are usually found with the monogram for Harry Nixon on their bases together with Noke, for either Charles or Jack Noke, who succeeded his father as art director in the late 1930’s. The addition of Noke’s name signified the quality such work achieved.


Chang ginger jar and cover.

To finish here are a selection of other glaze pieces from the early 20th Century. Enjoy!

FLM_Sung Vase Gnomes in Tree 13H (Small) FLM_Sung Vase Gourd Shape 6H (Small) FLM_Chang Tobacco Jar (Small) FLM_Chang Vase 3 Tier 11H (Small)

Royal Doulton Tablewares – an art deco surprise!


Just as Doulton’s Lambeth art studio was supported by the manufacture of drainpipes, the Burslem enterprise was in its turn supported by the sale of Doulton’s famous tablewares.


A contemporary publicity shot for the Syren pattern.

Just as the many other pottery companies of the time, Doulton attempted to stay bang up to day whether it be imitating arts and crafts, designs, Victorian styles or geometric art deco patterns, yet, Doulton managed to climb to the top of the pile playing upon their heritage for producing quality items in modern tastes.

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A leaflet promoting Doulton’s latest designs ca. 1935.

As well as producing items for the humble households up and down the country and around the world, Doulton also supplied some of the top hotels and restaurants with exclusive tablewares including The Savoy and Claridges in London. Certain patterns were targeted at particular markets such as the Maple Leaf pattern…

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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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