Founded in 1815 by John Doulton and John Watts, Doulton & Co. has long been known for its fine dinnerware, figurines, and art pottery. It has, over the years, produced more than 10,000 watercolor designs for its pottery. Though it is known as Royal Doulton today, that renowned distinction was far from a reality when Doulton and Watts first fired up the kiln at their Lambeth pottery outside of London.

Out of that pottery, Doulton & Co. first produced industrial stoneware, as well as decorative garden pottery. In 1820, the company began calling itself Doulton & Watts, as opposed to simply Doulton & Co. That was the case until 1854—stamps on pieces made after that time reflect the change.

In the 1870s, John Doulton’s son, Henry, turned Doulton & Co. into an inspired studio of decorative arts. The younger Doulton paired himself up with John Sparkes, the headmaster of Lambeth School of Art. With the aid of students, the duo produced well-regarded art pottery that was shown at the South Kensington Exhibitions in 1871 and 1872.

At this point, the pottery at Lambeth was producing everything from flasks and covered jars to fountains and animal statues. Soon, the company would expand. In 1877, Doulton began the process of taking over a factory in Burslem outside of Staffordshire that had previously been controlled by Pinder, Bourne and Company. It was at the Buslem factory that Doulton became known for its fine porcelain.

During the Victorian Era, Doutlon was Britain’s leading producer of sanitary ware. It also built the first stoneware pipe factory. But in the final quarter of the 19th century, the Doulton factory at Buslem really took off, as the china it produced became especially popular in North America. In 1901, Doulton became Royal Doulton, as King Edward VII bestowed upon the company the right to use the word “Royal” preceding its name.

Around this time, Doulton chemists and designers Charles Noke and Harry Nixon were experimenting with innovative ways to glaze bone china. This research led to colors such as their red Flambé and blue Titanium, as well as styles such as Sung.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Royal Doulton continued manufacturing art pottery out of its Lambeth headquarters, while it produced china at Burslem. Though the t...

In fact, the specificity of Doulton stamps is one of many reasons why collectors love this company. Its pieces are easily identified, and unlike other companies, there are few, if any, inconsistencies in them. For example, from 1902 on, the stamp included a lion atop a crown. Additionally, Doulton’s artists such as Percy Curnock and Charles Hart almost always signed their work, which is an additional aid to collectors.

Like most all manufacturers, Royal Doulton was influenced by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century and the Art Deco movement a few decades later. World War II interrupted production, and then, by the 1950s, the company’s Burslem branch began referring to itself as Doulton Fine China, Ltd. Less than a year later, the pottery at Lambeth shuttered its doors. Art pottery made at Lambeth remains collectible, especially character jugs and vases.

Production of art pottery, such as a set of jugs based on characters from Charles Dickens’ novels or Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess figures, continues at the Burslem pottery today.

Some of the china patterns that Royal Doulton has become best known for, and are most sought by collectors, include Carlyle (decorative pink) and Old Country Roses, both of which are made by Royal Albert, one of Royal Doulton’s three brands (the other two brands are Royal Doulton and Minton). Indeed, Old Country Roses is the highest selling dinnerware pattern worldwide.

Beginning in 1968, Royal Doulton became a supplier of china to Queen Elizabeth II. It also sent the first china into space on the space shuttle Discovery in 1984.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Thepotteries.org

Thepotteries.org

Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

The Scrap Album

The Scrap Album

Malcolm Warrington’s The Scrap Album is a handsomely organized site, as you’d expect from an articulate champio… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Malcolm Roebuck's tribute to the ornate silk picture bookmarks and postcards ('Stevengraphs') produced by Thomas St… [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Aesthetic Period Old Adams Style Royal Doulton Albany Bowl & PitcherC1900 Royal Doulton Art Nouveau Art Pottery Vase Signed Maud Bowen No ReserveSuperb Pair Of Doulton Burslem Ewers Reticulated Necks Rich Gilded Flowers C1891Royal Doulton Flambe 'mother & Baby' Monkey - Hn254 - Rare Example - Madec.1930Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Tea Service Jill Barklem 1985King Charles I - D6985 - Royal Doulton Small Quality Character / Toby Jug Oliver Cromwell - D6986 - Royal Doulton Small Quality Character / Toby Jug Super Rare Royal Doulton Prototype John Gilpin Character Jug Excellent ConditionBeautiful Antique Doulton Burslem Flow Blue Floral Covered Biscuit Cracker Jar Vintage Royal Doulton Large Embossed 'fox Hunting' Jug Hb5650 - Herbert BetteleyRoyal Doulton Sealyham - Scotia Stylist - Hn1031 - Issued From 1931 To 1955Royal Doulton Bunnykins Art Deco Teapot - Barbara VernonRoyal Doulton Foxhound - Tring Rattler - Hn1027 - Issued From 1931 To 1956Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge The Grand Bathroom Wall Plate 1st Grade Look!!Clown - D6935 - Royal Doulton Small Quality Character / Toby Jug North Staffs Fife Player - D7217 - Royal Doulton Small Quality Character Jug Royal Doulton Scottish Terrier Seated - Hn1018 - Issued From 1931 To 1946Vintage Royal Doulton Flambe Turtle 2.5" Royal Doulton "columbine"... Hn 2185 ... Made In England... 1956Leprechaun - D6948 - Royal Doulton Small Quality Character / Toby Jug Vintage Royal Doulton Character Toby Jug St George D6821 Medium Perfect Royal Doulton Art Deco Minden Egg Cup Set Rare & Truly StunningRoyal Doulton Coaching Days Jelly Jar / Jam Honey Marmalade Pot - CrackAntique Doulton Burslem Wild Turkeys Color 10" Plate Gold Trim Early 1900sVeteran Motorist - D6637 - Royal Doulton Quality Character / Toby Jug Royal Doulton Trio - 'under The Greenwood Tree' - Fantastic Perfect Condition...Rare Royal Doulton Vase Spittoon Made For Claudius Ash Florrie Jones DecorationBeautiful! Set Of 10 Royal Doulton Carlyle Salad/dessert Plates - PristineRoyal Doulton Brambly Hedge The Grand Bathroom Wall Plate Look!Circa 1901 Doulton Burslem Turkeys 10" Plate Nr!Royal Doulton "floradora Green" 2 Coffee Mugs Rare Antique Royal Doulton Battle Of Hastings Bayeux Tapestry 8.75" Plate Nr RbhRoyal Doulton Princeton Mug #3 Of 4 AuctionsBeautiful! Royal Doulton Carlyle Vegetable Serving Bowl - PristineRoyal Doulton Lge Character Jug The Antique Dealer D6807North American Indian - D6614 - Royal Doulton Quality Character / Toby Jug Royal Doulton Princeton Mug #1 Of 4 AuctionsRoyal Doulton Princeton Mug #2 Of 4 AuctionsRoyal Doulton Lge Character Jug Quasimodo D7108Royal Doulton Figural Plate & Companion Trarlwhite Biscuit Jar With Same FiguresA Royal Doulton China Biltmore Pattern Lidded Trinket Box 1990Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Summer Story Pottery 1st Grade Money Bank/box Look!Royal Doulton Princeton Mug #4 Of 4 AuctionsBeautiful! Set Of 10 Royal Doulton Carlyle Butter Plates - PristineRare! - Royal Doulton Two Handled Loving Cup - Gaffers D4210 - Nice CollectableRoyal Doulton Hot Water Pot Gaffers Series-ware - D4210 - Very Rare CollectableRoyal Doulton Bunnykins - 'red Fireman' - Db183' Limited Edition.Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Autumn Set Jill Barklem 1983Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Spring Set Jill Barklem 1983Vintage Royal Doulton Little Bo Peep/peter Piper Mug/cup - Nursery Rhymes 5187Antique Authentic Flow Blue Watteau Doulton England Porcelain Dinner PlateBeautiful Porcelain Blue Royal Doulton Made In England Advertising / Dealer SignRoyal Doulton "bunnykins" Children's Set ~ Cereal Bowl, Mug & PlateHenry Viii - D6647 - Royal Doulton Quality Small Character / Toby Jug Anne Boleyn - D6650 - Royal Doulton Quality Character / Toby Jug Doulton Lambeth History Of The Flag At Pretoria Pitcher - Excellent Condition Royal Doulton Stein - 'under The Greenwood Tree' - D6341 - Quality Series-ware..Royal Doulton Series Ware – Coaching Days Footed Bowl - White HorsesRoyal Doulton Series Ware – Coaching Days Bone China Cake PlateRoyal Doulton Brambly Hedge Winter Set Jill Barklem 1983