Royal Doulton

Buyer's Guide to Royal Doulton

When buying Royal Doulton ceramics there is an array of choice, from vases to figurines; figurines have drawn inspiration from children, ladies, historical figures, and a range of design styles throughout the years. Royal Doulton figurines are still in production now, with plenty still being designed. The most coveted figurines come from the earlier part of the 20th Century. 

More popular Doulton designs have been widely produced over the years so can be bought more cheaply. Doulton pieces that are a rarity may be ones that were made with trial colour ways. In 1934 the Character jug was launched, it is possible to purchase wither miniature, small or large jugs. Most people collect either jugs or figurines when it comes to Royal Doulton.


Expert Antique Dealers Advice

Alan Miller from Applecross Antiques offers invaluable advice on collecting Royal Doulton, below are his top five tips from the trade.

1. As with all areas of collecting it is important to always buy the very best that you can afford.  If you are buying in batches at an auction remember the golden rule ‘keep the best and sell the rest.’  This ensures that you’ll always delight in the quality of your collection.

2. When it comes to collecting antique Royal Doulton, we are dealing with items that are used rather than new; in some cases they may be of a great age.  Inevitably, over the course of time many of these items will have been damaged and subsequently repaired or otherwise restored.  What is important to consider is whether the repair or restoration has been executed to a high standard and in a skilled professional manner.  An important aspect of the Antiques Trade is conservation, and it is in this context that the matter of restoration should be judged.

3. Always buy what you like yourself, follow your own tastes and intuition, never buy an item simply because somebody has suggested to you that it will be a ‘good investment’.  Prices for Royal Doulton antiques and collectables have at the moment fallen from the dizzy heights attained a decade ago, however you should not allow that fact to influence your quest in seeking out the best quality pieces available on the marketplace.

4. Pots, Plates or Figurines?  This is entirely subjective and thus will depend upon your own tastes, preferences and of course budget.  Applecross Antiques tend to favour pre 1950 figurines, decorative plates and dishes, and wherever possible signed and date coded.  Naturally such pieces will cost more than their later equivalents, but remember when collecting you tend to get what you pay for.

5. Collecting is a long-term activity, which allows for the vagaries of fashion. Applecross Antiques believe that the very best of Royal Doulton’s extensive range is at present seriously undervalued and offers a real opportunity for those with ‘eyes to see’. 


Interior Designer Advice

Our in house interior designer, Lizzie Greenaway, offers her advice on these classic collectables.

1. 200 years of Style Inspiration
Royal Doulton is over two centuries old, the styles and designs of the pieces made during this period, antique, vintage and contemporary is extensive.  It is therefore possible to match the ceramics with a variety of interiors and styles. 

2. Give as a Gift
China is often given as a traditional wedding gift; Royal Doulton makes the perfect gift, as it is renowned for its valued collectable items.  You can either focus on one type of pattern or purchase a number of items, each with their own unique pattern.  There is such a vast array of Royal Doulton it means it will suit a myriad of tastes.

3. Go Vintage
Royal Doulton pieces need not be antique; there are many charming, collectable vintage pieces on the market.  For example, Royal Doulton’s Royal Albert Old Country Roses is one of the worlds most popular; it began production in 1962 and features a 22-carat gold border. 

4. Create a Collection
There are so many collections to choose from and it is a pleasure collecting them in itself, from the Bunnykins collection, to the Royal Doulton Seriesware and Royal Doulton Stoneware.  The stoneware from the Doulton Lambeth factory included collectables by some of the most famed Doulton artists, such as Hannah Barlow and George Tinworth.

5. Fine Figurines
Royal Doulton’s figurines are some of the most desirable pieces; they are either made of bone china or porcelain and are examples of such fine artistry and beautiful craftsmanship.  The figurines can be representative of culture, government or history, there is such a variety of figurines that it is possible to fit them with your décor; there is a Shakespearean line of figurines, or ones specific to children so it is possible to accessorise different rooms accordingly.

Extra Considerations when purchasing Royal Doulton


When identifying Royal Doulton pieces it will be difficult to determine the exact date when it was made unless there was a handwritten mark. Inspect each piece of Royal Doulton for scratches, dull spots or any chips, it is important to check it is not broken or cracked. Be careful to avoid fake pieces or items that are in very poor condition.

Environmentally Friendly

Earthenware and porcelain all directly come from natural materials; it is a beautiful material that has created many fine ceramics over the years. Ceramics are extremely durable and can last an incredibly long time when using them for dining or display purposes; they are more durable than say plastic or wood. Although there is energy expenditure to fire a kiln, antique ceramics can be used for hundreds of years, avoiding further production and the energy used in manufacturing such pieces. 

Valuing Royal Doulton 

When it comes to valuing Royal Doulton even if it is damaged it would not effect the rarest productions, obviously a piece in pristine condition is more desirable but if there is no choice collectors would rather purchase than not. Earlier Royal Doulton pieces also have a historical importance, which contributes to their value; one such piece is one of Royal Doulton’s first figurines known as ‘Darling’, it was marked ‘HN1’.
Doulton ceramics have a vast collection of marks to identify them, which steadily evolved and changed over the years; Doulton marks include Doulton Burslem marks, Doulton Lambeth and special Doulton marks that relate to specific collections and ranges. Royal Doulton also feature pattern and code numbers, which specifically relate to the period the item was introduced onto the market (that is not to say produced). The Charlton catalogue is an invaluable resource to use when assessing the value of your Royal Doulton piece, it contains an extensive guide to these ceramics.


As you can imagine such fine ceramics can be extremely delicate and safely packaging them before delivery is of paramount importance. Royal Doulton ceramics can be fragile, with protruding elements and will be need to be packed with care and attention, so they are thoroughly protected when being delivered. Begin by packing in a layer of tissue paper to protect against scratches, if there are spaces in the items of ceramics, such as the inner void of a teapot it is also important to pad these out with either newspaper, fibres or Kraft paper, then wrap with paper or bubble wrap, or ideally both. When arranging for delivery of your item it is important to use a reputable delivery service and also insure your items before transportation, thus in the unfortunate event there is damage in transport you can be compensated for your loss.


Royal Doulton items need to be cared for, depending on whether it is bone china, porcelain, fine china, stoneware, earthenware or giftware, will determine how the items should be used and treated. Bone china should never be exposed to direct flames or placed in the oven for instance; the majority of Royal Doulton ceramics are not freezer, oven or microwave safe. Treat your Royal Doulton items with care by regularly dusting the piece, try to avoid displaying in it direct sunlight and store or display it somewhere it won’t come to harm.


Image credits:

First Images (on the left) Royal Doulton Figurine 'The New Bonnet':
             (in the middle) Pair of Royal Doulton Vases c.1900:
             (on the right) Royal Doulton 'PAISLEY SHAWL':

Second Images (on the left) Mint Royal Doulton Hand Painted Plate by John Price:
              (on the right) Royal Doulton Figurine 'THE STANDING MAN':

Third Images (on the left) Royal Doulton Baby Bunting (HN2108):
             (in the middle) Royal Doulton My Teddy (HN2177):
             (on the right) Royal Doulton Tessie Bear (DCART0009):