Statistics tell us that in today’s society, a third of people collect something. And it doesn’t matter what it is that people collect. It could be a stamp collection, a coin collection, or even porcelain clown dolls. What matters is what people collect.
Collectors know how to see the beauty in ordinary things. Today this hobby is positioned not only as a hobby for millions but also as a reasonably profitable investment. Everyone knows that over time, a rich collection’s price increases several times. From this point of view, the most exciting subject for collecting is porcelain.
Collecting porcelain is one of the manifestations of the human desire for beauty. People collecting porcelain products distinguish the refinement and elegance of taste and love of multi-faceted art in all its manifestations. Each porcelain sculpture is a story, a short life, embodied in this cold material.
Unlike other works of art, collecting porcelain figurines does not imply cosmic monetary expenses, although sometimes there are rare and costly products. But an extensive collection of porcelain sculptures, numbering several tens of copies, can cost mere pennies.
Porcelain itself is an expensive and prestigious material. Any collection of porcelain not only decorates the shelves and the whole house but also warms the soul of its owner with its beauty. In addition, porcelain is a profitable investment. From year to year, porcelain collectibles get older, and with them, their value grows.
Start collecting porcelain so everyone who is at least a little bit interested in them and no stranger to all beautiful things.
If we talk about the collector price of the porcelain, it is formed on several parameters. First of all, the extraordinary demand and a considerable number of fans have rare antique porcelain products. But often, such items have a high price only because of the brand or belonging to a previously famous person. In this case, they are pretty crafty fakes. The high price distinguishes products from porcelain of high quality and good preservation. It is unlikely that an online porcelain store will offer such items.
Collectors who are just starting to build a collection should carefully approach the choice of porcelain items. This is necessary because the market is saturated with many fakes. Only sometimes, the branding on the product is an indication of authenticity. These days, the most popular are collections of dolls and porcelain figurines (such as porcelain clown dolls).
Not only do such collections somehow unite different age groups, but they are also very appealing to kids. Therefore, it is advisable to start adding to your collection with good quality porcelain rather than trying to get hold of a rare specimen immediately.
Royal Daulton – luxury royal porcelain
It all started with a hundred pounds sterling. That was the sum John Dalton had when he bought a small pottery shop in Lambeth, a district of London, in 1815. Perhaps two centuries later, no one would have remembered either the deal or the long-defunct pottery, but Dalton was in luck: John Watts, who had a thorough knowledge of production, worked in the studio.
Dalton and Watts, together with Martha Jones, who joined them, formed Jones, Watts & Daulton. Five years later, its name was shortened to Doulton & Watts as Martha Jones decided to leave the company. At the time, the firm’s primary products were salt-glazed ceramics: jugs, jars, and decorative bottles sold by local pubs. With the proceeds, partners 1826 bought another workshop in Lambeth High Street, more significant than the former.
The company owed its prosperity to John Dalton’s son Henry, who in 1846 founded his own company, Henry Doulton and Co., and began producing ceramic drainpipes, which were in great demand at the time. At this point in history, it is hard to imagine that the company would produce porcelain clown dolls.
After Prince Albert died of typhoid fever (1861), Queen Victoria became concerned about the purity of the water in all her castles and palaces. Dalton was commissioned to set up the pipeline with a filtration system. Having completed the task, a year later, Henry Dalton exhibited a copy of the filtration system at an exhibition, attracting the interest of a wealthy public not wanting to keep up with the palace’s innovations.
The resulting profits attract young London artists from the Lambeth School of Art to design the pieces. The resulting product surprises not only the public but also critical art critics. The Queen herself gave high marks to the products. Since 1872 objects from Dalton’s factory became known as “Lambeth earthenware.” More than two hundred artists and decorators were already working under the auspices of Lambeth Pottery in the 1880s.
A significant event in the company’s history was the acquisition of an earthenware factory in Burslem in 1877. London’s renewed plumbing significantly reduced epidemics in the city, and Henry Dalton received a knighthood in 1887. By 1897, Henry had combined the businesses run by his brothers with his own. The result was a company that employed more than four thousand people.
The peak event in the company’s history was in 1901 when she was awarded a royal warrant and the right to put the word “Royal” in the name. Thus appeared the company Royal Doulton. In the twentieth century, ceramic pipes, sanitary ware, and various building materials remained the company’s main focus. Gradually the assortment was expanded by accompanying products made of metal (water taps, etc.).
The artistic range continues to receive a significant financial boost, ensuring the products’ high quality. Renowned designers are invited to develop shapes and can offer unusual concepts. The factory also uses composite forms assembled from several dozen parts. Production of figures (including porcelain clown dolls) includes several necessary steps: casting, assembly, seam stripping, primary firing, glazing with subsequent firing, painting, final firing, and glaze coating.
This sequence allowed for the iridescent hues that were the trademark of Royal Doulton products. The thoroughness of the painting is evidenced by the fact that only masters with ten years of experience were allowed to work on the face of the figurines.
In 1959, the salt glaze was declared harmful to London production, which led to the closure of the factory in Lambeth and the transfer of production lines in Burslem. For Royal Doulton, this truncation was a challenge, and the company took on the production of bone china, managing to offer it at low prices, well ahead of the competition.
As we will see further, the collections of porcelain clown dolls from Royal Doulton production of the mid-to-late twentieth century are highly prized by modern collectors.
In the twenty-first century’s first decade, they moved to Asia to reduce production costs.
In the 2010s, they invited brands such as Barber & Osgerby, Charlene Mullen, Pure Evil, Nick Walker, and Gordon Ramsay.
The company is looking at 2020 as the date for the brand relaunch. In 2021, the Olio (Barber & Osgerby design) and Signature 1815 dinnerware series received awards while participating in trade shows. The same year, the production of annual collectible figurines created by famous British designer Neil Faulkner ceased as the company focused on tableware production.
Porcelain clown dolls – Royal Doulton figures
The Jester, by Charles J Noke, 1949
The clown, with his ridiculous stage costume and bright makeup, is everyone’s favorite circus character. Although many people think he came with the circus, he did not. Clowns were “born” centuries before the circus arts emerged. In England, their role was initially played by jolly clowns, Fools, Jacks Puddings, and Jolly Andrews. The word “clown” did not appear until the 16th century – one of the famous porcelain clown dolls, the jester figure of Charles J. Noke.
Harlequin, by D V Tootle, 1982
A new type of clown came to England from Italy in Elizabethan times. They were funny characters in Italian mask comedies called “zanni” (derived from the typical Italian name Giovanni). The name “zanni” was common to all the characters in mask comedies, such as the awkward Pancinello (Mr. Punch), the joker Harlequin, the dodgy Pedrolino (Pedro), and others.
Even though comic characters often had to endure beatings, they were still designed not to depress but to amuse the crowd. In addition, as a rule, by the end of the performance, the Zannies managed to deal dashingly with their masters-abusers.
In the XVIII century, the characters of the comedy of masks seamlessly moved into the so-called harlequinades, or pantomimes, a new type of theatrical representation. The English clown soon took over the fame of the harlequin jester. This happened largely thanks to the great Joseph Grimaldi, the father of modern clowning. He was born in 1778. Grimaldi was already playing in the theater as a child, but he could not show his talent as a comic actor until he was 22 years old.
Getting the roles of Punch and Clown at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, he immediately won the audience with his incredible energy and sparkling passion. Many of Grimaldi’s famous stunts can still be seen today in the performance of modern circus clowns, which have come to be called “Joeys” in his honor. Among the porcelain clown dolls is the Harlequin figurine by D V Tootle stands out for its exquisite color scheme.
Tumbling, by D V Tootle, 1989 model
Grimaldi, the Clown, wore colorful baggy costumes decorated with frills and used makeup to draw geometric shapes on his bleached face. Similar makeup, but without whitewash, is present in the “Red Clown” and “White Clown” depicted in Gary Fenton’s jugs.
In the days when Grimaldi entertained audiences in the theater, the circus was emerging. Philip Astley, a retired sergeant major, created this art of bizarre spectacle. He first showed equestrian shows in the field, and then came his “Royal Amphitheater of the Arts.”
The artists in it sang and demonstrated pantomime on a circular stage. This form of performance quickly gained popularity. Circus troupes began to appear all over Europe, performing both stationary and in tents while touring the country.
Clown acrobats added a comic element to this type of performance. The French circus performer Jean-Baptiste Auriol became very popular at the time. His signature number was the somersault, which he spun by jumping out of his shoes and back into them again.
Designer Douglas Tuttle created the image of an acrobat clown in one of his porcelain clown dolls. It’s a Pierrot-style clown, balancing deftly in a head-down position on a brightly colored balloon. He has been learning to perform acrobatic tricks since he was a child. This was a prerequisite for anyone who dreamed of mastering the same (if not higher) level of skill.
Partners, by Alan Maslankowski, 1990
At that time, not only acrobatic comedians were very popular, but also clowns working in tandem with an animal. They had the challenging task of teaching their assistants to do various “wrong” things in a way that looked comical. The circus performer Durov stood out in particular in this sense. He performed in the arena with a pig, which he trained in an amusing military image. As a result, both Durov and his pig were deported from Germany… for treason!
Once upon a time, by the way, many clowns chose these grunting animals as scene partners. Today, kitties have become recognized favorites of comic animal trainers. One of such amusing porcelain clown dolls by Alan Maslankowski, “Partners,” depicts a clown conducting his playing friend during a musical interlude.
The Clown, by William K Harper, 1978
With the advent of the 1890s, clowns performing with animals and acrobatic comedians gave way to the clown characters we know today. These are the White Clown and the Red Clown (Silly Augustus). The clumsy and funny Augustus is believed to have been invented by Tom Belling, a German acrobat, and musical clown.
One day, while drunk, he tripped during a number and got tangled in the ropes. Afterward, he grinned stupidly and grinned at the audience. The audience, mistaking all these grimaces for a specially conceived skit, began to chant enthusiastically, “August!” Which meant “Idiot!” The next day, Belling made himself a red nose, wore a suit several sizes larger, and repeated the previous day’s “skit” for the audience.
The sloppy, comical Augustus, or Red Clown, became a target for pranks, a weirdo who constantly gets into funny trouble. And the character has become a perennial favorite with audiences who have given him their hearts over the years.
One of Bill Harper’s porcelain clown dolls, “The Clown,” captures all of Red Clown’s distinctive features: his flattened hat, baggy clothes, huge shoes, and red nose. The grotesque makeup was invented by the French clown Alberto Fratelini, who painted himself with wide black eyebrows and large bleached areas of his face around his mouth and eyes.
The Clown. 1992, Height 13.5 cm
Daulton designers have created numerous figurines, clown jugs, and “Toby” mugs. The bizarre clown makeup can be seen on Stan Taylor’s “Toby”-Jug “Clown”: big scarlet lips, bright red eyebrows, and a red nose on a completely white face. And two black “tears” streaming down his cheeks are the final touch, borrowed from the eternally in love Pierrot.
Will He, Won’t He, by Robert Tabbenor, 1989
Another striking clown represents the work of designer Robert Tubbenor. He is frozen with a bucket of water over an unseen audience, looking at the crowd for approval. This is the “Will it tip or won’t it tip?” model. Watching him, we wait for him to do it after all! Meanwhile, the Ginger Clown sneaks up on his colleague in oversized boots, hiding a paint-dripping brush behind his back.
In front of you is Adrian Hughes’ model of “On Tiptoe.” But designer Mary Nicole’s “Hasty Clown” has already alerted the public. Armed with a bucket and paintbrush, he’s prepared for a war of paints.
Balloon Clown, by William K. Harper, 1985
The Red Clown traditionally always works together with the White Clown. The latter is said to have appeared in 17th-century Paris. Its “progenitor” was the French baker Gros Guillois, who amused the people with his flour-white face during his performances at fairs.
Later, the White Clown migrated to the stage of the French theater. This type inspired artist Ben Black to create the Behind the Mask series of collectible plates, presented in 1984. It includes four striking works: “Laugh Me Out,” “Colored Senses,” “Minstrel Serenade,” and “A Performance for the Soul.
Joker, by M. Nicoll, 1990
Porcelain clown dolls Bill Harper’s “Balloon Clown” and Mary Nicole’s “Joker” reflect an English interpretation of the witty, elegant White Clown. The White Clown is always a clever character who rarely falls prey to a bucket of water or a custard pie. His awesome costume remains just as clean throughout the performance, despite the efforts of his partner, the Red Clown.
All these tricks and antics of colorful funny characters have entertained the public for centuries. Royal Doulton artists have conveyed them very accurately with their excellent porcelain clown figures, which you can’t look at without smiling.