The Origin of Royal Doulton Porcelain
An example of a Toby character mug, this one a bootmaker from the “D” series.
The back of Royal Doulton the Bootmaker Toby Mug, identified as D6572.
The Royal Doulton hallmarks and production information for the bootmaker mug.
Porcelain and china firms usually take their names from the company’s founder. In 1815, John Doulton became a partner with a widow named Martha Jones—whose late husband had originally founded Lambeth Pottery—and the foreman of the pottery, John Watts. The pottery operation began its new incarnation as Jones, Watts, and Doulton, but would became best known under the Doulton name in 1853, as the business thrived by specializing in stoneware, such as bottles, sewer pipes, water filters and chimney pots.
By the mid-19th century, the company expanded into the production of decorative stoneware that rivaled the finest in the world. It was John’s son Henry Doulton who took the company through its next stage of development, expanding into a line of art pottery in 1871 with the opening of the Lambeth pottery. The Lambeth pottery offered students and designers from the local art school the opportunity to produce designs for the company. The new line was a great success, thanks to the work of artists such as Florence, Arthur and Hannah Barlow, Eliza Simmance, George Tinworth, George Butler, and Mark Marshall.
The company entered into the production of fine porcelain that it is now famous for after purchasing Pinder, Bourne & Co. of Burslem, England, in 1882. Under the direction of John Slater, Doulton moved rapidly into the production fine quality decorative porcelain, winning honors at major international exhibitions for their tremendous variety of figurines, vases, character jugs and other decorative items. This success brought Doulton to the attention of the royal family, the company then being allowed the honor of using the world ” Royal” by King Edward VII in 1901.
It was during this period that the company began production of its famous line of decorative “Series Ware,” such as the “Gibson Girl” plates, circa 1901, “Dickens ware” pottery, plates and figurines in 1911, the “Robin Hood” series in 1914, and the “Shakespeare” series in 1914. The most well-known of these pieces are the “HN” numbered figurines still in production today. The first being designated HN1 “Darling” in 1913. The “HN” stands for Harry Nixon, the head artist in charge of decorating the figurines. Other noted artists who worked on the designs and decoration were Authur Barlow, John Sparkes and George Tinworth. The popularity of Royal Doulton’s figurines brought about other lines, such as the “Nursery Rhyme” series in 1930 and the “Bunnykins” line in 1933. The company continues to issue new lines of collectibles every year and expanding existing line such as the HN figurines and the “D” series Toby Mugs.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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