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]

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]

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]

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    

Large Antique Art Nouveau Royal Doulton Aubrey Jug Pitcher Brown 13 1/4" C.1904Rare Royal Doulton Fairy Hn1380 ** 1930/38 ** Must See **Rare Royal Doulton Hn 1862 Jasmine - PerfectRoyal Doulton Large " Alfred Hitchcock "character Jug D6987 C1994 " Rare "Rare Royal Doulton Baba Hn1230 ** 1927/38 ** Must See **Rare Royal Doulton Babette Hn1424 ** 1930/38 ** Must See **Rare Royal Doulton Jester Wall Mask Hn1609 ** 1934/40 ** Must See **Royal Doulton Horse! Merely A Minor! Hn 2571! Rare! Mint!Royal Doulton Booths Real Old Blue Willow China - 12 Berry Or Dessert BowlsRare Royal Doulton Lambeth Artist Piece Vase - By Florence C Roberts C1884Royal Doulton Vintage 1931-55 Lge Sealyham Terrier Dog Hn1030 Ch Scotia StylistRoyal Doulton 'golfing' VaseRoyal Doulton Character Jug Status Quo, Francis Rossi D6961.1888 Doulton Lambeth Edward Vii & Alexandra Silver Wedding Commemorative MugDoulton Lambeth Salt Glazed Stoneware Bellarmine Satyr Mask Jug Royal Doulton Flambe Woodcut Vase, #1616, Hunt SceneRoyal Doulton Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig On Plinth Fabulous Vintage Royal Doulton Flambe Vase With Sail Boat Design No 7208Pair Doulton Lambeth Ivory Faience Painted Flowers Vases Edith Gillman 10" C1900Royal Doulton Flambe Woodcut Vase, Man Fishing SceneRare Vintage Royal Doulton Salesmans Miniature Sample ToiletRoyal Doulton Flambe Woodcut Vase, #1618, Horse And Carriage SceneRoyal Doulton Vase - Wild English Rose D6007Rare Royal Doulton Hn 699 Polly Peachum - PerfectRoyal Doulton Booths Real Old Blue Willow China - 11 Cups And 9 Saucers3 Pc Royal Doulton "brambly Hedge" Tea Service MinaturesVintage Royal Doulton Trio Of Norfolk Pattern Egg Cups6x Royal Doulton Porcelain Platinum Concord Oatmeal/cereal/soup Bowls H 5048Royal Doulton Countess D2802 Sandwich TrayPair Of Royal Doulton Vases 1920-1939 (art Deco)- Artist Lily PartingtonRoyal Doulton Seriesware - Miniature Dutch Themed Jug - Nice!Beautiful Rare Doulton "ruby" Hn 1724 By Leslie Harradine 1935-496 Dessert Plates Old Country Roses Royal Albert, Seasons Of Colour Royal DoultonReally Superb Art Deco Royal Doulton Seriesware Frank Brangwyn Vase In Xlt CondVery Rare Royal Doulton Miniature Gladiator Character Jug Prototype Color Beautiful Royal Doulton Flambe Woodcut 1613 Red & Black 6 3/8" VaseRoyal Doulton Porcelain Platinum Concord Bread & Butter Serving Plate H 5048Rare Royal Doulton Strasbourg Tall Coffee Pot W/ Cover - H4958 - MintRoyal Doulton" Flambe Sung Vase Bird Of Paradise 126Very Rare Royal Doulton Miniature Auld Mac Character Jug Prototype Color Blue Antique Royal Doulton & Co. Lambeth Stoneware Water Cooler Barrel Powder KegRoyal Doulton Stylish Snowman Ds3 The Snowman Gift Collection - Lovely Perfect Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge The Wedding Cup & SaucerPair Of Royal Doulton Candle Holders - Booths Real Old Willow DesignRoyal Doulton Blueberry 24pc Set, Tc1204 Courier $45.00Antique Old Early Doulton Lambeth Era Whiskey Water Pitcher Jug Royal Doulton - D5156 - Golden Wattle - Rare Demitasse Cup & Saucer6x Royal Doulton Porcelain Platinum Concord Breakfast/lunch/salad Plates H 5048Vintage Royal Doulton England Shakespeare Charater Figure Falstaff Hn 2054 Mint!Royal Doulton 'wedlock' Jug1897 Doulton Pottery Large Handled Pitcher 50 Year Queen Victoria EnglandRoyal Doulton Coaching Days Bowl, June 1922 Boxes Royal Doulton Bunnykins Mary Mary Quite Contrary Nursery Rhymes Db247Royal Doulton Catherine Of Aragon Character Jug D6657 - Wife Of Henry Viii - ExcRoyal Doulton Punch And Judy Man D6596 Miniature Size Character Jug *rare* Mint!Royal Doulton - Three Muskateers Large Character Toby Jug - Athos - Nice!Very Rare Royal Doulton Bunnykins Plate Juggling"sir Henry Doulton " D6703: Quality Small Royal Doulton Toby Jug Collectors ClubRoyal Doulton Real Old Willow Large 10" Salad Serving Bowl-traditional Stamp!!!!Beautiful Antique Royal Doulton Burslem Hand Painted Plate