Most Royal Doulton collectors are familiar with the work of Charles Noke who launched character jugs at the Burslem Pottery in 1934. However, few are aware of the pioneering work done at Doulton’s Lambeth Pottery in London a century earlier. The first Doulton character jug was a salt-glaze stoneware portrait of Admiral Lord Nelson, the great naval hero, which dates from the 1840s. By the 1860s Doulton’s Lambeth Pottery was also making the traditional style of toby jug in brown salt-glaze stoneware. During the 20th century, the toby tradition was revived by Harry Simeon, one of Doulton’s most talented artists. Simeon fashioned Toby Fillpots into a variety of useful articles, such as a teapot, ashtrays, bookends, candlesticks and liquor decanters, as well as the more traditional toby jug.
This exquisite bone china tray painted with cherubs by Charles Labarre dates from 1892 and was probably exhibited at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Labarre worked for Doulton’s Burslem Pottery for less than a year so signed pieces are extremely rare. He was renowned for his painting of amorini and other classical figures in the style of Sèvres, the French porcelain factory where he worked also. Doulton’s Art Director, John Slater, invited Labarre to travel from Paris to Stoke-on-Trent in order to decorate some of the important exhibition vases modeled by Charles Noke.
The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 was Charles Noke’s debut as a modeler for the Burslem studio and alongside his prestige vases he showed his first free-standing figures. Mirth and Melancholy, a tall double-faced jester was the star of the show and the first of many Jesters that Noke modeled throughout his career. Three or four versions of Noke’s splendid Vellum jester were decorated by artists in Robert Allen’s prestige studio and this one features a golden pattern of owls for wisdom and asses for foolery.
Henry Doulton acquired the Burslem pottery in 1877 and one of his specialities in the early years was blue and white ware. This pleasing color combination was inspired by Chinese porcelains and many of the Doulton subjects have an Oriental flavor. This impressive moon flask from the 1880s is decorated in the Japanese taste with prunus blossom and orbs highlighted with intricate gold traceries. It was a key piece in the Doulton archives for many years and an exhibit in the Doulton Story at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1979
Fox hunting has been part of English rural life since the 16th century and became popular in America during colonial times. Today in the US, the sport is often referred to as fox chasing as the object is not to kill but to enjoy the thrill of the chase. Doulton collectors can also enjoy the hunt by pursuing the elusive fox models and other great hunting designs produced by the Lambeth and Burslem studios.
Reginald Johnson was a Design Director for the Royal Doulton group, working mainly for the Paragon and Royal Albert brands. His Royal Albert bird plates from the 1980s are much appreciated by collectors and his commemorative designs for Paragon have celebrated many royal occasions over the years. For the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in 1977, he modeled an impressive limited edition loving cup for Royal Doulton, a revival of Charles Noke’s commemorative designs from the 1930s. Johnson was the perfect choice for this commission, having studied under Noke when he first joined Doulton at the age of 14 in 1923. One of his first
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