Street sellers and sirens, dancers and Dickens's characters, Victorian maidens and Regency belles; all these and more come alive in Doulton's richly painted series
Graceful mode fling, crisp potting and lustrous colours make the figurines in Doulton's; HN series among the most attractive and
most desirable models in the
Doulton of Lambeth began operations in the Regency period. At that time,
the factory made only industrial stoneware, but in the second half of the 19th century, under the leadership of Sir Henry Doulton, it was a leader in
the art pottery movement.
This century, the factory has been famed for the named and numbered figures and tableaux that make up the most collectable series of porcelain produced this century.
Although Doulton had produced porcelain figures from their Burslem factory in the late 19th century, the first in what became known as the UN series was not issued until 1913;
Darling, modelled by Charles Vyse, was numbered HN1 for Harry Nixon, the factory's chief colourist at the time.
Since then, all figures produced by Doulton have been given their own HN number. New figures are still being introduced
- the HN numbers now top 4,000 - and old ones discontinued.
The factory often rang the changes with different versions of their figures. Sometimes the changes were made in small details of the modelling, but usually by changing the colour scheme.
Between the wars, some figures could be ordered in special colourways to match the buyer's interior decor. Whenever a figure was changed it was issued with a new
HN number. Miniature versions were also produced, with the HN number prefixed by an M.
There are several reasons for the popularity of Doulton figurines. The main one is the quality of the modelling, remarkable in
mass produced pieces.
Doulton have always employed the very best artists and designers. One of the most notable was Leslie Harradine, who had a genius for expressive portraits in pottery. Another was Richard Garbe, whose ivory sculptures were reproduced in strictly limited editions, as few as 25 in some cases.
English & Continental Pottery & Porcelain.
DOULTON COLLECTOR'S NOTES
Doulton collectors are mainly interested in figures that have been withdrawn from
production, or 'retired'.
Those that are still being made do have a resale value, though this will only be about 60-80 per cent of Doulton's recommended retail price.
You should decide on a particular area of interest before you start your collection, as a
complete set of figurines is not really a realistic goal.
Some of them were made in very limited numbers, while others, particularly those that were
retired before World War 2, have become rare for other reasons.
There are lots of possible themes for a limited collection. You could concentrate on the work of a
particular designer or period, or on various types of model - flower-sellers, pretty ladies,
literary characters and so on.
STARTING OUT WITH ROYAL DOULTON
It is always a good idea to be well-informed when collecting. Knowledge will help you choose an area of interest and recognize a bargain.
It is still possible to find desirable figures, at a fraction of their real value, in junk shops,
jumble sales and even car boot sales.
Figures may also be found in antiques fairs and markets, but you will need to be an early bird
to get in before the dealers. Salerooms are another rich source; you may well pay less at an
auction, as the buyers are mainly trade.
You may have to travel to build up your
collection, but that can be half the fun. Shopping around is well worthwhile, as prices can vary considerably.
If you are really interested, join the International Royal Doulton Collectors'
Club. You will get to know other collectors dealers, always a helpful move. The magazine is very informative and will improve
your understanding no end.
You can find out a lot about a piece you thinking of buying by looking at its
base. There, you should find the name of the and its HN number, alongside the Doulton Lion & Crown stamp. The legend 'Potted Doulton & Co' also usually appears.
The style in which the marks were varied over time, and is perhaps the indicator of when a piece was actually manufactured.
Take a book of china with you when you shop in order to check The date that is sometimes impressed on base is the year the model was issued. If
a piece has had a long run, you may find earlier manufactures are of better quality.
English & Continental Pottery & Porcelain.