Eric Knowles Eric Knowles, Antiquarian

Doulton Lambeth Stoneware

In the autumn of 2004 selected items from the Royal Doulton museum were offered at auction by Bonhams to a packed New Bond Street saleroom. Included amongst the 500 plus lots were a selection of small figural groups modelled by their celebrated Victorian sculptor George Tinworth. An amusing Tinworth group titled "Hunting" featuring a steeplechase with mice ridden by frog jockeys measuring 12cms in height sold for a staggering £9,000.

The name of Royal Doulton is today synonymous with the best in fine bone china tableware alongside their crinolined lady figurines. So it's difficult to believe that the company's fortunes were founded upon the making of salt glazed stoneware sewer pipes. It all began shortly after the Battle of Waterloo when in 1815 a young John Doulton set up his own pottery in Fulham at a cost of £100.

Since then the company has achieved international fame for its extensive range of wares and products. There are no shortage of collectors for virtually anything carrying the Doulton and Royal Doulton trademarks. The Royal Warrant being awarded in 1901 by Edward the Seventh. Possibly the most desirable of all Doultons products were made at this period of the firms history - stoneware art pottery.

The Tinworth figural groups represent a tiny fraction of the art pottery output that consisted of primarily decorative vases and bowls. Despite the astronomical prices paid at the Bonhams auction the vast majority of Doulton's stonewares remain affordable. It's still possible to buy the more restrained pieces for between £200 and £400 dating from about 1890 through to the 1920's.

Doulton collectors understand that when it comes to collecting stonewares its usually a question of names and size. Henry Doulton, son of the founder, was responsible for the diversification from sanitary and other industrial and chemical products. The situation of the pottery close to the Lambeth School of Art prompted Sir Henry, to employ several lady students and set up an Art Pottery which grew throughout the 1870's.

The most prominent lady artists were the Barlow sisters of Hannah, Florence and Lucy. Hannah being the more famous of the three. Specialising in animal subjects such as horses, cattle and sheep incised into the clay Prices for Hannah's work start at £1,000 for a pair of 12 inch vases. Florence appears to have a definite preference for British birds.. You can expect to pay in the region of £800 for a pair of 12 inch vases.

Other important artists to look out for include Mark V Marshall and John Broad and their grotesque beasts, Frank Butler and his high relief work and the great George Tinworth. In later years the work of decorators and designers such as Francis C Pope, Harry Simeon, Leslie Harradine, Vera Huggins and Agnete Hoy enjoyed much acclaim. The price of their work makes them relatively affordable with a Vera Huggins 14ins vase decorated in the 30's or 50's for less than £500.

Sarah Mackay from Surrey is the owner of a pair of 10ins Doulton vases decorated in russet glazes with Daisy flowerheads and fronded leaves. Doulton stonewares benefit from the amount of information impressed or incised onto the base, in this case an E.S. monogram and the initials R.B. This all adds up to your vases being the work of the much sought after artist Eliza Simmance assisted by Rosina Brown and a consequent value of £900 the pair is not unrealistic.



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