Doulton may have produced figurines from the mid-19th century but it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the figures so popular with collectors today were made.
In 1913 one of Doulton’s modellers, Charles Noke, who was recruited from Royal Worcester, began to design a new range of figurines. They were launched that same year when King George and Queen Mary toured the Burslem factory.
It is even documented that the Queen commented on one of the figures of a little boy saying “Isn’t he a darling!” and subsequently the figure was named ‘Darling’.
This first range was released complete with a new model numbering system; the HN numbering system invented by Harry Nixon, head of figure painting at the time. The system was able to distinguish different colours and sizes within the same designs and is still in use today.
Production of the figurines thrived under the guidance of Noke and another key designer, Leslie Harradine.
He was one of the main modellers for Doulton, his first figurine was released in 1920 and he went on to work for Doulton for thirty years producing at least one new design every month, sometimes two or three.
The popularity of his figures saw the number of artists in the painting department increase. He is particularly well known for his stylish ladies who had their heyday in the 1930s, although he also liked studies of Dickens’ characters.
One of his most popular designs, the ‘Top o’ the Hill’ figure, featuring a windswept lady was first made in 1937 and is still being produced today.
Due to his lasting legacy at Doulton, some enthusiasts will focus just on his figurines for their collections.