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]

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]

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 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]

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]

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]

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 Royal Doulton England Fox Hunt Hunting Cocktail Shaker Martini VintageRare Complete Set Of 12 Plates &serving Plate Royal Doulton Porcelain Bull SteerRoyal Doulton Art Deco Tango De Luxe Tea Trio Rare & StunningRare Royal Doulton Kingsware Whiskey Golfing JugRoyal Doulton Small Character Toby Jug - Benjamin Franklin - D6695 - Mint SuperRoyal Doulton Prototype Airman BunnykinsRoyal Doulton Tiny Character Toby Jug - Old King Cole - D6871 - Collectors Club!Vintage Royal Doulton Bayeux Tapestry Battle Of Hastings Series Ware Side PlateAntique Royal Doulton Flambe Signed Fred Moore & Charles Noke Hallmarked Bowl NrRoyal Doulton Miniature Size Character Toby Jug - The Red Queen - Super DetailRoyal Doulton Small Character Toby Jug - Mr Pickwick - Whisky Bottle Antique Doulton Flow Blue Turkey Dinner Plate #2Royal Doulton Small Character Toby Jug - Sergeant Buz Fuz - Dewars Whisky JugAntique Doulton Flow Blue Turkey Dinner Plate #1Royal Doulton Character Toby Jug - Great Britains Britannia - Limited Edition !Lovely Old Salt Jug By Royal Doulton D 6551 - Le W69Royal Doulton England Character Jug - North American Indian D6614Royal Doulton Small Character Toby Jug - Mr Pickwick - Jim Beam Whisky Bottle Vintage Royal Doulton William Shakespeare Small Character Toby Jug - Cg F16Charming Royal Doulton Bunnykins Children's China Bowl And Money Bank - Gk R05Lovely Robinson Crusoe Jug By Royal Doulton D 6532 - Le W69Superb Royal Doulton Art Deco Nursery Rhymes "the Cat & The Fiddle" Mug" C1930sRoyal Doulton Small Size Character Toby Jug - The Mad Hatter - D6602 - Mint !Vintage Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Summer Salad Plate By Jilll Barklem 1982Royal Doulton England Character Jug - Auld MacSuper Rare Royal Doulton Prototype Small Jockey Red & Yellow Mint Condition Vintage Royal Doulton Porcelain England Harlow 10 Place Tea & Coffee SetRoyal Doulton Figurinetoy Maker Hn2250 Mint ConditionRoyal Doulton Tableware, 56 Pieces, "real Old Willow"Royal Doulton 8 Inch Vase #d4080 Great DesignRoyal Doulton England Character Jug - Mr PickwickRoyal Doulton England Character Jug - Simon The CellarerRare Large Antique Doulton Lambeth Stoneware Frog/chameleon Vase/jugSuperb Royal Doulton Art Deco Nursery Rhymes: Little Bo Peep Cup & Saucer C1930s1985 Royal Doulton Snowman Plate Rare Bone China Vintage Collector's ItemGood Vintage Royal Doulton " North American Indian " Character Jug. Royal Doulton Vases- Late 19th CenturyRoyal Doulton Jill Barklem Brambly Hedge Four Seasons Bone China Plate - SummerRoyal Doulton Jose Miralles Kings & Queens Plate - Queen Elizabeth 1 Pn1Service For 8, Royal Doulton English Renaissance 6 Pc Setting, Excellent CondRoyal Doulton Carlyle H5018 5 Piece Place SettingRoyal Doulton Fortune Teller Vintage Royal Doulton Old Leeds Sprays Serving Plate D-6203 Excellent Condition3 Pieces Of Royal Doulton Bunnykins Child's Baby Dishes Tableware Plate 2 MugsGorgeous Art Nouveau Royal Doulton Stylized Cabinet Cup And Saucer Set H738 N/rRoyal Doulton English China Charger Cabinet Plate - The Jester D6277Royal Doulton Charger Cabinet Plate - Characters Of Robert Burns D6344Royal Doulton Bunnykins - Father Christmas (db237) - Two For The Price Of One!Royal Doulton "atlanta" (8) 5 Pc Place SettingsRoyal Doulton Character Jug ~ Mark Twain D6654 ~ Large SizeRoyal Doulton Carlyle H5018 Pattern Dessert/fruit Bowl - Apprx-5.25"Royal Doulton Carlyle H5018 Pattern 1 Dessert/fruit Bowl - Appx 5.25"Royal Doulton Carlyle H5018 Pattern Dessert/fruit Bowl - Appx 5.25"Royal Doulton Autumn Work Plough Horses Dinner Plate Eng. Dinnerware Very RareRoyal Doulton Autumn Work Plough Horses Luncheon Plate Eng. Dinnerware Very RareRoyal Doulton "bunnykins" China- 3 Piece Set- Never UsedRare Christmas Royal Doulton Double Handled Shot GlassRoyal Doulton Small Character Toby Jug - W G Grace - Cricket Test Match - MintAndrew Wyeth Bowl Royal Doulton Signed Bone China Limited Edition Apples VintageVintage Set Of 8 Royal Doulton Tiara China 5.25" Fruit/dessert Bowls