How A Royal Doulton Character Jug Is Made

Each Royal Doulton character jug begins its journey in the creative mind and on the sketch pad of the sculptor who then proceeds to bring his character to life in the form of a clay model.  Once the clay model meets the extremely high Royal Doulton standards, the master mould maker’s expertise are then called upon to create a master mould from plaster of Paris.  This is a highly specialised process that has to capture every nuance and all the character of the original clay model.  From the master mould a working case is made and it is from this that all future moulds are produced.  In order to ensure accurate reproduction of the sculptors original creation, each mould is used only a small number of times.

A liquid mixture of clay and other finely ground ingredients prepared to ‘Royal Doulton’s own formulation is poured into the working mould, once the mixture is set to the correct thickness it is carefully removed from the mould.

Each character jug is then left to dry thoroughly in controlled temperatures before receiving its first firing – at temperatures up to 1150 degrees Celsius.

Skilled artists then take over and hand-paint each character jug with Royal Doulton’s own specially developed ceramic colours to give each character jug an individual quality, the jug is then fired once again.

The character jug is then dipped in a specially developed liquid glaze and fired for a third time to create a permanent transparent coating that protects the colours and gives the character jug the unmistakable Royal Doulton luster.

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Royal Doulton Bunnykins

Collecting Royal Doulton Bunnykins is a thriving hobby, with approximately 400 figures to find,  fluctuating from the common to dinky editions.  At any given moment there are over 1000 Bunnykins figures for sale on eBay with the rarest figures commanding high prices.

Originally six figures were produced in 1939, with production ceasing during World War 2. These six primary figures are very rare and cost between £500 and £2000. The six primary figures are “Billy”, “Mary”, “Farmer”, “Mother”, “Freddie”, and “Reggie”. Of these “Mary” turns up on eBay the most, one recently selling for £681. Less common figures sell for more, with “Reggie” recently achieving £1500 on eBay.

Reggie  BunnykinsBilly BunnykinsMary Bunnykins

After the war production was not resumed until Royal Doulton purchased the Beswick factory where the first of the modern figures were produced in 1972. This range of figures is labelled “Db” and now numbers over 400 figures, varying in rarity and value.  Many dinky editions have been produced, most notably, Happy Millennium Bunnykins Tableau, of which only two have been produced one is in the Royal Doulton Museum and the other sold at auction in 2000 for £9,800.

eBay has driven prices of Royal Doulton Bunnykins down, and eBay auctions for common Bunnykins rarely reach more than half the sell price or book value.  However, the dinky editions continue to hold their value well especially the dinky editions with low issue numbers.  For example, the Bunnykins Oompah Band, has been issued three times. The first, the red version, was issued between 1984 and 1990 and sell for £40-45 per figure on eBay. The second edition, the blue version, was produced in a dinky edition of 250, and sells for £200-300 per figure.  Interestingly the 3rd, the green version was also produced in a dinky edition of 250, as yet not seen on eBay by myself.

As well as dinky versions, prototypes and one off variations occasionally find their way onto the market. Genuine examples command high prices on eBay, recently a prototype of Father Bunnykins, which normally sells for £15-£20, sold for £700.

Royal Doulton Bunnykins are great to collect and whilst the prices are low they are a good investment.

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Dating Royal Doulton Bunnykins

There are a few hints when determining the age of a piece, the backstamp, the shape and colour.   Bunnykins was originally designed by Sister Mary Barbara Vernon, and her name is seen on wares up until the mid 1950’s.  Waltar Hayward took over during the 1950’s until the mid 1980’s, adding many of his own designs.

Backstamps:

1.This is the first backstamp dating 1937-1953, which featured the bunnys under the Royal Doulton logo with the word “Bunnykins” below.  Early pieces occasionaly  have the green Royal Doulton ‘A’ backstamp as well as shown here during 1930’s and 40’s.  Early examples from 1934-1937 may just have the Royal Doulton backstamp on its own with a number next to it, or just the word “bunnykins” below.  An impressed date mark was also used on early Royal Doulton ware, which makes the piece easy to date – eg 9.39 denotes a production date of September 1939.

A black outline in monochrome bunnykins backstamp was used from around 1942-1948.

2. This backstamp was used from 1954-1958.

3. The registered trademark, R in the circle was added below the bunny’s and dates the piece to between 1959 and 1975 on earthenware.

4. This backstamp is usually found after 1967, English Bone China was added as earthenware was dropped in favour of bone china.  These pieces are also noticeable by the change in colour, as the bone china is more white compared to the cream colour of earthenware.

5.  This backstamp has the copyright 1936oRoyal Doulton (UK).  People often make the mistake of thinking because it has the date 1936 on it that this is when the item dates to.  This is incorrect, this backstamp with the copyright is seen on later pieces (1976-1987).  After this, the copyright date 1988 is seen from 1988-1993, then it reverts back to the copyright 1936 post 1993.

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Royal Doulton Character Jug Derivatives

Charles Nokes, very first true character jug derivatives were the ashtrays of 1936, which were basically miniature size character jugs with trays added.  Their success meant the range grew to include larger ashbowls as well as tobacco jars.  Very minor changes were required to suit the character jugs for their new purpose.  The musical jug derivative for instance, required that the based be extended to accomodate the Thorens Swiss movement, which played the appropriate tune.  However, Harry Fenton’s creativity must have been stretched to its limit when it came to incorporating the Sairey Gamp, Tony Weller and Old Charley characters into teapots and the matching sugar bowls that followed.  This range went out of production when the second world war broke out and the range was only revisited again in the late 1950’s when a range of 14 table lighters in the form of character jug personalities was launched in 1958, these are fairly rare items today.

Royal Doulton - Derivatives

The majority of post-ware derivatives produced by Royal Doulton have been liquor containers made to order for various  bottlers and distillers, including, William Grant, Jim Beam and many more.  In 1988 the Royal Doulton International Collectors Club commissioned The Old Salt Teapot, especially for members and this led to the introduction of several new character teapots of The Old Balloon Seller, Falstaff, etc.  These were only in the range for a short time and have therefore become hard to find and sought after by collectors today.

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How To Date Royal Doulton Dickens Figures

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Miniature figurines of Charles Dickens characters were produced by Royal Doulton between 1922 and 1983 and during this time there have been variations in ceramic bodies, size and backstamps.  In 1922 sixteen miniature bone china Dickens figures were introduced to the HN collection, based Leslie Harradine’s earlier stoneware models.  In 1932 these were renumbered as miniatures M41-M56 and in 1939 the collection grew to eighteen figures as the Bumble M76 and Cap ‘n Cuttle M77 figures were introduced.  These pre-ware figures carry the old ‘Doulton’ or ‘Doulton England’ earlier backstamp.

The collection was briefly withdrawn in 1949 and then re-introduced in a slightly larger size with a deeper base and no identification numbers.  The collection also grew to 24, as six more characters were introduced.  The Royal Doulton ‘Lion and Crown’ bone china backstamp was used on all figures of this period.  When the ‘bone china’ is blocked out of the backstamp, it means the figure was made of English Translucent China, which was first introduced in 1959.

In 1968, saw the figures once again increasing in size when the clay body was changed from china to earthenware.  All 24 figures were produced in earthenware and were withdrawn between 1981 and 1983.  In 1994 Pascoe and Company commissioned a limited edition figure of Charles Dickens himself, making a final total of 25 figures in the collection.

The table below will help with dating your Royal Doulton Dickens figures and if you have any other questions please visit http://www.royaldoultonguide.com

 NAME  M NUMBER  DATES  DICKENS BOOK
Alfred Jingle  M 52  1922-1981  Pickwick Papers
 Artful Dodger  M 55  1922-1983  Oliver Twist
 Bill Sykes  M 54  1922-1981  Oliver Twist
 Bumble  M 76 1939-1982  Oliver Twist
 Buz Fuz  M 53 1922-1983  Pickwick Papers
 Cap’n Cuttle  M 77  1939-1982  Dombey & Sons
 David Copperfield  M 88  1949-1983  David Copperfield
 Dick Swiveller  M 90  1949-1983  The Old Curiosity Shop
 Fagin  M 49  1922-1983   Oliver Twist
 Fat Boy  M 44  1922-1983  Pickwick Papers
 Little Nell M 51  1922-1983  The Old Curiosity Shop
 Mr Micawber M 42  1922-1983  David Copperfield
 Mr Pickwick  M 41  1922-1983  Pickwick Papers
 Mrs Bardell  M 86  1949-1982  Pickwick Papers
 Oliver Twist  M 89  1949-1983   Oliver Twist
 Pecksniff   M 43   1922-1982  Martin Chuzzelwitt
 Sairey Gamp  M 46  1922-1983  Martin Chuzzelwitt
 Sam Weller  M 48  1922-1981  Pickwick Papers
 Scrooge  M 87  1949-1982  A Christmas Carol
 Stiggins  M 50  1922-1981  Pickwick Papers
 Tiny Tim  M 56  1922-1981  A Christmas Carol
 Tony Weller  M 47  1922-1981  Pickwick Papers
 Trotty Veck  M 91  1949-1982  The Chimes
Uriah Heep  M 45  1922-1983  David Copperfield 

The City Of Doultonville By William Harper Of Royal Doulton

Doultonville

 

William Harper who studied and worked in the potteries all his life, is the creator of Doultonville, the city as well as all the cities larger than life characters, which he portrayed in his range of small size toby jugs.

Doultonville in the Bill Harpers words:

‘I first became interested in Doultonville many years ago when by a strange mishap I was stranded in that lovely old city, but that is a tale that cannot be told here.  Some years later I returned and settled there and the lives of the many inhabitants became familiar to me.  I had the idea that I would capture all their lives in a novel (with assumed names, of course).  Then the thought occurred to me of immortalising them as a series of ceramic figures.  The old Latin word for fiction is ‘fingere’ means also ‘to fashion in clay’, so I was persuaded and Doultonville came to life.  The characters of this ancient but still thriving city have become toby jugs to continue a long Potteries’ tradition which began in the eighteenth century.

As you may know, Doultonville lies by the sea in a picturesque bay overlooked by lofty headlands where there are many beautiful walks.  It’s small harbour has fishing boats and on its sandy beach the summer visitors enjoy the sun.  Behind the seafront on a hill the mellow stone buildings of the Old City, with its Roman wall and twin-spired Cathedral, cluster together while across the river over fine bridges, the modern city centre and shops merge into the houses that rise towards the broad moorlands and rolling farmland which enclose Doultonville with sheltering arms and give it an air of timelessness, as if it was not a real place at all.’

What a wonderful place Doultonville must have been to visit for Bill Harper, an escape to the surreal second to none I am sure and a world I often try to escape to myself when I look at my collection of Royal Doulton, Doultonville toby jugs.

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