A Guide to Vintage Royal Doulton Figurines

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Royal Doulton, an iconic British ceramics manufacturer, has produced exquisite pottery, dinnerware, and collectibles for over two centuries. 

Among their most sought-after creations are the beautiful Royal Doulton figurines. This guide will overview vintage Royal Doulton figurines, including information on the company's history, how to authenticate figurines and a few of the more popular vintage Royal Doulton series.

The History of Royal Doulton

The renowned English ceramic manufacturing company was established in 1815 by John Doulton, Martha Jones, and John Watts. The company initially operated as Doulton & Watts and was based in Lambeth, London. It began producing industrial ceramics like drainpipes, water filters, and stoneware. But in 1853, John Doulton's son, Henry Doulton, joined the company, bringing an interest in more artistic pottery. Henry expanded the business by acquiring a nearby factory in Lambeth that specialized in decorative ceramics. Under his guidance, the company began producing ornamental items, including vases and decorative tiles, which were highly sought after during the Victorian era.

Royal Doulton Introduces the HN Series

The production of the now-famous figurines began in the early 20th century. In 1913, the company launched its first line of porcelain figurines called the "HN Series." The series, named after Harry Nixon, a key designer at Royal Doulton, began in 1913 by introducing the first figurine, "Darling" (HN 1). Since then, over 4,000 figures have been produced featuring various subjects, including women, children, animals, and characters from literature. Renowned artists such as Leslie Harradine and Peggy Davies contributed significantly to the series' success.

Over the years, the company expanded its product range to include tableware, dinnerware, glassware, and other decorative items. In 1971, the company was granted the Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth II, allowing it to use the name's "Royal" prefix. Since then, collectors and enthusiasts worldwide have come to associate the Royal Doulton brand with high-quality, elegant ceramics.

Identifying Vintage Royal Doulton Collectibles

How can you tell if a Royal Doulton piece is authentic? Identifying vintage Royal Doulton porcelain, including its figurines, involves examining various aspects of the piece, including the back stamp, the HN number, and the artist's monogram.

Back stamp 

The back stamp is one of the most reliable ways to determine the age and authenticity of Royal Doulton porcelain. Royal Doulton has used various back stamps throughout its history. Early back stamps (pre-1902) will feature the words "Doulton & Co. Limited" or "Doulton Burslem England." From 1902 to 1922, the back stamp was changed to include the words "Royal Doulton England" with a crown and lion symbol. Post-1922 back stamps have "Made in England" added, and "Bone China" appears on porcelain figurines from the 1930s onwards.

HN Number 

As previously discussed, Royal Doulton figurines have a unique HN number assigned to each model. The HN numbers have been used to catalogue figurines since "Darling" (HN 1) was introduced. This mark is typically located on the base of the figure, either painted or printed and can help you determine the age and rarity of the piece.

Artist Monogram

Royal Doulton porcelain might also be signed or monogrammed by the artist responsible for the design. These marks are near the back stamp or HN number and testify to the figurine's authenticity.

Popular Vintage Royal Doulton Figurines

Several vintage Royal Doulton figurine series and individual pieces have become highly popular among collectors and enthusiasts. Some of the most sought-after series and figures include:

  • Early HN Series. The HN Series is the original line of Royal Doulton figurines that started in 1913. Some of the most popular and earliest figurines from this series are HN1 "Darling" and HN2 "Paisley Shawl."
  • Pretty Ladies. This series features elegant, graceful female figurines in various poses, attire, and with intricate detailing. Examples of popular Pretty Ladies figurines include Autumn Breezes, Biddy Penny Farthing, and Top O' The Hill.
  • Character Jugs. While not classic figurines per se, the character jugs portray the faces or busts of various historical, fictional, or famous figures. Some popular Character Jugs include Old Charley, The Cavalier, and Winston Churchill.
  • Nursery Rhymes and Storybook Characters. Royal Doulton produced a range of figurines based on well-known nursery rhymes and storybook characters. Popular figurines in this category include Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and Humpty Dumpty.
  • The Professionals. This series features figurines representing different professions, trades, or hobbies, such as The Balloon Seller, The Potter, and The Orange Lady.
  • The Bunnykins Collection. Introduced in 1934, this series features anthropomorphic rabbits engaged in various activities and is popular among collectors, especially those interested in children's items. Some popular Bunnykins figurines include Mr. Bunnykins at the Easter Parade, Bedtime Bunnykins, and Nurse Bunnykins.
  • The Brambly Hedge Collection. Based on the illustrated children's book series by Jill Barklem, these figurines depict the charming world of the woodland mice living in Brambly Hedge. Popular figurines from this collection include Poppy Eyebright, Dusty Dogwood, and Primrose Woodmouse.

Please note that the popularity of Royal Doulton figurines can change over time, and the value of individual pieces may vary depending on factors such as rarity, condition, and desirability among collectors.

Selling Vintage Royal Doulton Figurines

Are you looking to sell Royal Doulton figurines in Toronto and don’t know where to begin? Consider Around the Block, the area’s best destination for Royal Doulton porcelain. As experts in quality porcelain figurines on consignment, you can be sure that your Royal Doulton collection will be properly handled and marketed. And because we only employ certified appraisers to evaluate our inventory of fine porcelain, you can have confidence knowing that what you purchase is authentic and appropriately valued. We offer easy consignment with the best consignment percentage in Toronto. For more information, check out our Consignment page or contact us.

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