The products of the Doulton businesses were vast, exceptionally diverse, and are
widely collected. The major wares are listed below, and in most cases there are specialist
publications dealing with each group.
In the early 1860s Doulton & Co. began the manufacture of domestic and ornamental
salt glazed stoneware that later became known as 'Doulton Ware'. The nearby Lambeth
School of Art became associated with the Doulton business from about the same time
and Henry Doulton joined the Board of the School in 1863.
The decorative stoneware produced in association with the School of Art had enormous
success at International Exhibitions in the 1860s and 1870s, culminating in acclaim
at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1886 (and also at Chicago in 1893). Many now famous
artists were recruited including George Tinworth, Arthur and Hannah Barlow, and Mark
Popularity of the ware peaked in the late 1890s when about 370 artists were employed
at Lambeth, however with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and changing social
tastes, the demand for the intricately ornamented stoneware declined and by 1914
less than 100 artists were still employed. Following the end of the First World War,
Lambeth produced stoneware reflecting more contemporary tastes, but by 1920 artist
numbers had declined to only 30. Small quantities of ornamental stoneware continued
to be made up to, and throughout (for export only), the Second World War, and in
1952 the artist and potter Agnete Hoy joined Doulton. She combined her unique style
with the traditional Lambeth decorating techniques for a last flowering of the Lambeth
stoneware tradition. Hoy’s design studio and the Lambeth works closed in 1956.
The Lambeth stoneware is exceptionally diverse and highly collectible. Most marks
include the words 'Doulton Lambeth' and many pieces are signed or initialled by the
artist responsible. There are many specialist texts devoted to the story of Lambeth
and its potter-artists.
In 1974, Doulton re-introduced 'Lambeth Stoneware' as a casual tableware brand in
an oven and freezer proof stoneware body. Other than in name, the modern Lambeth
Stoneware has no connection to that produced at the Lambeth factory up to 1956.
Doulton’s early success can be attributed to the quality of the modellers, designers
and artists attracted to Burslem from the early 1880s. After Shadfort Pinder left
the business, Henry Doulton retained the services of the Pinder, Bourne & Co. art
director John Slater. Slater was a talented artist and gathered an equally talented
team of decorators from the Doulton Lambeth works and from other Staffordshire potteries.
Initially constrained by Henry Doulton to working on earthenware, Slater recognised
the potential of decorated bone china and travelled to France to study the Sevres
and Limoges decorating styles. Some Limoges blank tablewares were decorated at Burslem,
but in 1884-85 a bone china factory was built at Nile St.
The Burslem porcelains include ornate vases, bowls, plates and tableware. All are
of the highest quality and were decorated with landscapes, fruit, flowers, birds,
fish and game by a group of talented artists. Doulton displayed his new products
at the 1893 Chicago Exhibition to astounding acclaim. Success at the Chicago Exhibition
reinforced Slater’s and Doulton’s confidence in the marketability of finely decorated
bone china and under Slater the team of modellers, artists and decorators was expanded
in the 1890s producing objects rivalling those of the Minton, Derby and Worcester
factories. Production of these richly decorated and very attractive items was at
its peak between 1890 and 1920, but continued throughout the 1930s.
Charles Noke joined Burslem from Worcester in 1889, where he had first trained under
Charles Binns and then worked for 16 years. A talented modeller, decorator and ceramic
technologist, Noke introduced new glazing and decorating techniques to the Doulton
range. Holbein Ware (1895) and Rembrandt Ware (1898) were two of Noke’s first Doulton-Burslem
productions, Hyperion Ware and Lactolian Ware, decorated in Art Nouveau style followed
in c.1900. Noke’s experimentation with glazes and decorating techniques led to Rouge
Flambe (1904), Crystalline Ware (c.1910), Titanium Ware (c.1915), Sung Ware (c.1920)
and Chang Ware (c.1925).
These Burslem art wares were probably never profitable lines for the factory, but,
like the Lambeth stoneware, they build Doulton’s reputation as being at the forefront
of the British pottery industry. All are highly collectible and are seldom seen today.
Doulton Series Ware was an innovation of the decorator and designer Charles Noke
and is simply a series of plates and other items with decoration based on characters
from legend, literature, history and song. The poem ‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’ by Thomas
Ingoldsby is said to be the original inspiration for Noke to decorate a series of
trays, vases and jugs with scenes illustrating the poem.
‘Coaching Days’ is perhaps the most well known Series, but there have been literally
hundreds of series, some remaining in production for up to 50 years. Some of the
most popular are those based on characters from Shakespeare and Dickens, however,
there are also series which depict places, historical events, recreational activities
Series Ware is the subject of five books by Louise Irvine.
Doulton earthenware and bone china commemorative wares were first produced for the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, the Federation of Australian in 1901 and
the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902. Commemorative wares have continued to be a
mainstay of Doulton production.
Charles Noke’s long-standing interest in porcelain figurines began in childhood and
was to be amply fulfilled through his work at Nile St. Although initially engaged
in the modelling of large vases, Noke began figure modelling in 1894 and over the
next few years produced a series of figures in stoneware or parian bodies. These
large figures were made in only small numbers.
From about 1910 Noke turned to bone china and commissioned some of the best sculptors
and modellers to create the figures. The new range of approximately 20 figures was
released in 1913 during a Royal visit by Queen Mary to Nile St. HN1, a child figure
was named ‘Darling’, supposedly after a complimentary remark by the Queen. Other
figures and animal models followed, but public and commercial success was not achieved
until favourable reviews were received at the 1920 British Industries Fair – and
it was not until 1927 that Doulton committed to their full-scale production.
Such was the success of the small bone china figurines that by 1949 the ‘HN’ figurine
series had reached well over 2000. The ‘HN’ numbering references the contribution
of Harry Nixon, head painter for Doulton at the time. (Arthur) Leslie Harradine
is the most widely known of the figurine modellers, and working in a freelance capacity
he delivering models on a monthly basis from circa 1920 for 30 years
Many other limited edition figurines, often modelled by well known sculptors and
ceramic modellers have been produced by Doulton over the years.
Doulton animal models in bone china were initiated by Charles Noke between 1900 and
1910. Noke himself was the modeller of the earliest animal models, but many other
specialist designers were used by the factory. The models of dogs and horses are
perhaps best known, but virtually all domestic and wild animals can be found amongst
the Doulton models.
In 1969 Doulton acquired John Beswick Ltd and from circa 1979, some Beswick animal
models were produced under the Doulton name.
In addition to the decorative porcelains, the Burslem factory produced tablewares
in both earthenware and bone china bodies. The Doulton tableware combines good design,
high quality, and contemporary, yet stylish and elegant, decoration. This is best
illustrated in the art deco tablewares of the 1930s. Patterns such as ‘Tango’ ,
‘Syren’, ‘Caprice’, Gaylee’ and many others are now regarded as classical examples
of the Art Deco style as applied to tableware.
English Translucent China (‘Fine China’)
In 1960, Royal Doulton introduced a new proprietary body for use in its tableware.
The innovation, English Translucent China produced a fine, translucent body equivalent
to bone china, but without the use of costly and increasingly hard to find, ground
animal bone. The body has been used extensively for tableware and, since about 1979,
has been termed ‘Doulton Fine China’.
Doulton ‘portrait jugs’ – Toby Jugs and Character Jugs – were introduced by Charles
Noke in about 1933. Noke used the successful precedent set by Series Ware and introduced
jugs based on characters from literature and song. ‘John Barleycorn’, modelled by
Noke himself, was the first of what has became a popular and successful collectible.