Royal Doulton: More Than Just Collectibles? (Part 1)

Wide eyed, at the age of seven, I found myself sitting in the middle of a Sotheby’s auction, in Cape Town, South Africa, with my astute mother and a wide array of smartly dressed bidders. A story in and of itself as to how I got involved in ‘antiquing’ so young but for this blogs sake we accept the premise that such a thing happens and is normal. And what did I end up bidding on, what caught my attention enough to convince my mother to bid for an early birthday present for me? It was none other than a Royal Doulton Character Jug of Dick Turpin. And as they say the rest is history. As I got older I began to understand that though the first rule of collecting is acquire what you love and enjoy, there is in my opinion a bit of fine print to apply to that.

Like with many before me, Royal Doulton has managed to attract a loyal following, holding them for a life time, and have continued this cycle for over a century. One could say the reason for their success is due to the sheer range of items that they create. In truth there are many factors that have contributed but for me that day and ever since then the key has been that Royal Doulton Figurines, Character Jugs and Tobys have soul. Unlike many of the Austrian, Hungarian and even French potters and sculptures, Doulton did not try to create perfectly proportioned statuette pieces in the classic styles mastered by the Romans. Rather they wished to convey realness and feeling, which required them to use a far more abstract style. Their pieces are whimsical, beautiful, scary, strange and fun often all at the same time!

It is not surprising though that many of the same principles that apply to acquiring other forms of antiques and collectibles apply to Royal Doulton too…Yes you should buy what makes you happy, what you love and what you enjoy but if at all possible why not do so with items that in the very least hold their value and possibly even appreciate? Surely you will feel less guilty over the years (especially if the spouse or significant other thinks you are just an addict of sorts).

In my next few blogs I will be taking a look at the pieces of Royal Doulton that have done just that, appreciated (after which I will be moving to other collectible categories that I have seen do much the same). I will be addressing why and will hopefully leave you with practical ideas to follow and pitfalls to avoid (yes, there are fakes and dodgy items out there, but there ways to avoid them).

I am a strong believer in antiques and collectibles as an asset class that can be utilized to create and sustain wealth, while having fun! I hope through my blogs you will be able to see why. As my mother once said to my late father, ‘I would really much prefer a check on the wall (a valuable painting) to more bric a brac.

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest 


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