Royal Doulton is a classic English brand name in tableware and ceramics with a pedigree dating back to 1815, when John Doulton used his life's savings to launch a partnership with Martha Jones and John Watts at a stoneware factory in Lambeth, London. Today, Royal Doulton is a world-class brand in quintessential British tableware, collectable figurines, crystal, glass and giftware.
Yet it had truly down to earth origins. Thanks to stoneware, the business that subsequently focused on the Doulton family name took full advantage of the revolution in sanitation during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837- 1901). It established the world's first stoneware pipe factory and went on to become Britain's top Victorian manufacturer of sanitary ware.
John worked with his son Henry to grow the business, and their portfolio soon extended to artistic pottery, ultimately embracing ornamental, commemorative, and tableware products. Indeed, Doulton set the pace in new art schools and reaped the rewards at exhibitions. By 1871, Henry had launched the Lambeth Studio with local designers and artists who experimented with a variety of materials and glazes in an industrial setting. Their names included the Barlow family, Frank Butler, Mark Marshall, Eliza Simmance, and George Tinworth. Today their pioneering work commands increasingly high prices.
It was a success story that would go on to be made in Stoke-on-Trent. In 1877 Henry purchased a major shareholding in the factory of Pinder, Bourne and Co at Nile Street in Burslem, Staffordshire - a facility that handled tableware as well as ornaments and earthenwares.
Studio-based success prompted diversification. The business introduced new techniques and produced bone china from 1884. The ideas and inspiration of key individuals like John Slater and Charles J Noke built its reputation in figurines, vases, and decorative pieces. When Henry died in 1897 he was widely mourned. But the Doulton name for fashion and functionality was spreading apace.
The Doulton name caught the attention of the royal family itself. During 1901 the Burslem factory was granted the Royal warrant by the new king, Edward VII. Now the business could adopt a bold new logo - the British lion - and a classic brand name - Royal Doulton.
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