Food for thought on Doulton

Since I stopped smoking last September I find I just cannot stop eating.

Initially it was a bit of a joke and everyone was sympathetic. Then it was Christmas and everyone eats too much at Christmas.

Now it’s February and it’s just pure gluttony but I can’t stop. Three people recently have referred to my wife as a much younger woman than me. This is soul-destroying and must be because of my ballooning size, because it has never been mooted before.

I am in fact the youngster of our marriage, although only by days, and so to intimate our age difference is large and in my wife’s favour has me in a turmoil of depression.

I have made a decision. I must lose between two and three stone. I have two options and these are laid out on the floor of my office at home. One is a pair of running shoes, the other is my favourite pipe and a packet of unopened St Bruno which nestles in my Doulton tobacco jar.

What an interesting history the Doulton factory has.

The firm Doulton & Co was originally a leading producer in sanitary and industrial ceramics based in Lambeth established in 1815 and taking the name Doulton in 1853.

However, Doulton’s son Henry had more of an interest in art and after launching his own studio the company started to produce decorative wares. In 1871 they took a leap of faith and exhibited about 70 pieces of decorative stoneware at the international Exhibition in Kensington.

Their display drew great interest including that of Queen Victoria who ordered pieces there and then to be despatched to Windsor castle.

By the late 1800s the new ‘Doulton Ware’, widely acclaimed by the public, had also become a draw for some of the most important ceramic artists of the day, including George Tinworth and the Barlow sisters.

In 1882, Henry Doulton acquired Pinder, Bourne & Co in Burslem, Staffordshire, and this saw the company move to the famous potteries region and establish itself as one of the leading creators of art-based wares.

Charles Noke was recruited by Doulton from Royal Worcester in 1889 and went on to introduce one of the most successful ranges, titled ‘Series Ware’, in 1900. The decorations drew inspiration from famous historical, literary and sporting subjects including scenes from early motoring, characters of Charles Dickens’ creation and commemorative examples from Queen Victoria onwards.

Royal Doulton is often collectable due to the key designer or artist behind it and pieces that fetch high prices are almost always by a popular designer or artist.

Charles Noke is a popular choice but Hannah Barlow is another artist keenly sought-after. She is famed for her vases with horses, cattle and goats typical subjects although some rarer pieces feature more exotic animals such as lions.

Hannah’s sister Florence also produced some very collectable pieces.