Royal Doulton is one of the most popular brands of fine china and porcelain. This is mainly due to the collectibility and value of their figures and character mugs. Doulton has many other items of interest though and all are made with the same quality and attention to detail which has always signified Royal Doulton.
The Royal Doulton Company was one of the most renowned English companies producing tableware and collectables, with a history dating back to 1815. Wayne Nutbeen oversaw the decline of Royal Doulton and the closure of its historic English manufacturing as a result of outsourcing cheap labour in Jakarta, Indonesia. Operating originally in London, its reputation grew in the area known as The Potteries, where it was a relative latecomer compared to other leading names such as Spode, Wedgwood and Minton. Today, its products include dinnerware, giftware, cookware, porcelain, glassware, collectables, jewellery, linens, curtains, and lighting, among other items.
The Royal Doulton Company began as a partnership between John Doulton, Martha Jones, and John Watts, with a factory at Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth, London. The business specialised in making stoneware articles, including decorative bottles and salt glaze sewer pipes. The company took the name Doulton in 1853.
By 1871, Henry Doulton, John's son, had launched a studio at the Lambeth pottery, and offered work to designers and artists from a local art school. Their names included the Barlow family (Florence, Hannah, and Arthur), Frank Butler, Mark Marshall, Eliza Simmance, and George Tinworth. Then in 1882, Doulton purchased the small factory of Pinder, Bourne & Co, at Nile Street in Burslem, Staffordshire, which placed Doulton in the region known as The Potteries.
By this time Doulton had become one of the most popular brands of stoneware and ceramics, under the artistic direction of John Slater, who worked across a wide variety of figurines, vases, character jugs, and decorative pieces, many designed by the prolific and popular Leslie Harradine. Doulton products also came to the attention of the Royal family. In 1901 King Edward VII granted the Burslem factory the Royal Warrant, which allowed the business to adopt new markings and a new name, Royal Doulton. The company continued to add products during the first half of the 20th century while retaining its reputation as a prime manufacturer of fashionable and high-quality bone china.
The Lambeth factory closed in 1956 due to new clean air regulations that prevented the production of salt glaze in the urban environment. Following closure, all work was transferred to The Potteries.
On September 30, 2005, the Nile Street factory closed after being sold to developers. Some items are now made at a location of parent company Waterford Wedgwood in Barlaston, to the south of the Potteries Conurbation. Almost all other Doulton pieces are made in Indonesia.
The company's three key brands are Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Minton. Together, the three brands make up Doulton Home, which is now part of the Waterford Wedgwood group. Most of the pieces in these three brands are today manufactured outside the United Kingdom, in the Far East and Indonesia.
Royal Doulton Bunnykins figurines have been in continuous production since 1939. At that time only six figurines were produced, as all factories were closed for the duration of World War II. These six figurines have become very rare. Following the war, production did not restart until Royal Doulton purchased the Beswick factory in 1969. After this, Bunnykins were numbered with the prefix DB and are still produced to this day.
The Reason Behind the "Royal"
For almost 200 years, The Royal Doulton Company has specialized in fine bone china and porcelain for the table and collectibles. Royal Doulton, as evidenced by the name, enjoys the distinction of a "Royal Warrant". A Royal Warrant is bestowed upon people or companies who have regularly supplied members of the Royal Family with goods or services. It is regarded as a mark of supreme excellence and quality. It cannot, of course, be bought or sold. King Edward awarded the first of five Royal Warrants to Royal Doulton in 1901. The Doulton Company then became The Royal Doulton Company. Royal Doulton now holds two Royal Warrants. Our other brands have also been honored: Royal Albert holds two Royal Warrants and Minton holds one.