The legendary factory of collectible porcelain figurines, Royal Doulton, was originally engaged in the production of ceramic dishes and drains. The history of the manufactory was predetermined by fashion: at the end of the 19th century, in Victorian England, a craze for ceramic figurines began. The British liked animal figurines: they were placed in rooms, given to each other, and collected. In the late 1880s, Royal Doulton decided to join the new trend and hired a craftsman who designed the first line of ceramic figurines. Thus began a new history of manufactory.
Studio in Lambeth
George Tinworth, the master who created the first animals from ceramics, worked in the Lambeth Studio. In a small room in the center of London, he made marine animals, fish, waterfowl. His tiny glazed frogs and mice have gained worldwide fame. Largely due to the plot: George “forced” his animals to ride boats, play cricket, draw, drink tea.
George Simeon followed George to Lambeth. He liked to sculpt birds sitting on trays and mouse companies. Figurines of Harry appeared in the 20s of the last century, and they will be much easier to find than frogs and mice.
By the 1940s, the Lambeth studio stopped making figurines – World War II prevented further production. But the Victorians were not left empty-handed: the Royal Doulton manufactory was still in operation.
Charles Noke series
In 1877 the Doulton Burslem studio was opened. Soon after the opening, vases and jugs with animals began to be created here. Until 1908, individual figurines were not produced here. Charles Noak was the first artist to model animal figurines. His hands belong to the famous lop-eared rabbit, a mouse on a cube and frogs. Within 4 years, by 1912, the company produced more than 60 different animal figurines.
Since 1910, numbering has been introduced at Doulton. The letters “HN” and numbers were applied to each figure. Statues have gained popularity. The most popular were chanterelles, rabbits, dogs and birds. The figurines of a wolf and a rabbit in a morning dress were to the taste of collectors. They were created from 1913 to 1938, and now these figurines are almost impossible to buy.
Another ceramic “celebrity” is “Fox in a hunting suit”. These figures were made for almost 30 years – from 1913 to 1942.
Not all of the HN series were produced in large quantities. Some figurines disappeared without a trace, others remained only on the pages of the manufactory’s old catalogs, others can still be seen in private collections.
Statues of Frederick Dawes
Figurines made from 1930 to 1970 are cheaper, more numerous, but not always easy to find: many figurines are in private collections. If you are interested in Royal Doulton animal figurines, start with those created by Frederick Dawes in 1930. Frederic was asked to make a series of champion dogs, winners of various exhibitions. Dawes approached the matter thoroughly – he visited several kennels, watched dogs of different breeds and created truly realistic figurines. Perhaps the rarest of them was HN1014 (terrier).
A more economical option is figurines created in the 40s of the last century. These are kittens, dogs (terriers and spaniels in baskets). Other figures will also be inexpensive – birds, hares, dogs, released between 1931 and 1977.
As the popularity of the Royal Doulton figures grew, so did the production. In 1939, Peggy Davis joined the company, who initially worked on the figures from the K series. These are kittens, piglets, penguins.
Until 1972 and the appearance of Robert Jefferson, the factory did not produce new figures. Robert created large animals and birds. Seabirds and otters have become the most famous in his series.
In 1985, a lot of things changed at Royal Doulton. The HN and K series figures were no longer produced here. A new design manager, Graham Tong, appeared at the factory, and with him a number of young craftsmen who worked in the John Beswick studio. These are Amanda Hughes-Lubeck, Warren Plat, Martin Alcock. They created a series of cows, horses, pigs, sheep, dogs and cats.
In 2003, the Beswick studio was closed: it turned out to be unprofitable to create ceramic figurines in the UK. But Royal Doulton continues to exist – outside the state – and releases new figures. The company has also recreated many old models – small birds from the Beswick studio, dogs from the HN series.
Be that as it may, Royal Doulton figurines remain popular among collectors (and lovers of home comfort). And this popularity is only growing: connoisseurs of original porcelain figurines have a chance to create their own collection.