About Royal Doulton (Manufacturer)
The redoubtable British ceramics maker Royal Doulton has long embraced popular tastes and enjoys a devoted following among aficionados of English pottery. Some are drawn to the company’s intricately decorated bone china dinner services; others are passionate collectors of Royal Doulton’s artfully hand-painted vases, bowls and figurines.
When founded in 1815 in the Lambeth section of suburban London, Doulton & Co. produced bottles and other storage containers and even sewer pipes in stoneware, a cheap but durable cousin of porcelain. Amid the Victorian era’s rising concern for hygiene, food safety and sanitation, the company flourished. And in the late 1870s Doulton expanded its business into the applied arts.
The firm took over a factory in Staffordshire, in northern England — the traditional home of British ceramics manufacturing — to produce tableware. Around the same time, Doulton opened an art-pottery studio in Lambeth, where vases, urns and other forms were decorated with painted scenic images, flowers or historical motifs. Taking a cue from the venerable Meissen porcelain workshops in Germany, Doulton artisans began crafting figurines modeled on characters from literature and theater. The firm also helped popularize Toby Jugs and other “character mugs” — handled cups shaped as the heads of figures from folklore and popular culture. King Edward VII granted the company the Royal Warrant in 1901.
Royal Doulton china will always make an elegant yet not-too-formal appearance in a traditional table setting. Prices for dinner services vary according to size, age and condition, but generally range from $2,000 to $15,000. Royal Doulton art pottery might be used by some as a bright decorative note; others collect the company’s figurines with the same interest and dedication as stamp and coin enthusiasts. A typical Toby Jug might fetch $50, while very rare figurines can sell for $7,000. Most of the finest Royal Doulton art pottery pieces sell for around $500. As you will see on these pages, few decorative-arts companies are as aesthetically and stylistically diverse as Royal Doulton. The firm truly offers something for everyone.