Q: I’ve attached pictures of a footed bowl that once belonged to my mother. She owned an antiques shop in the 1960s, and when she closed it, this was one of the few pieces she chose to keep. It is in very good condition. Can you give me an idea of its value?
T. B., Morristown, N.Y.
A: Today, we tend to think of Doulton wares (referred to as “Royal Doulton” after 1902) as being composed of expensive dinnerware and fancy figures — generally, high-quality representations of beautiful young women or people going about their daily lives (old woman selling balloons, or a man squatting on crossed legs making pottery).
But when Doulton began, it produced more humble wares such as drain pipes and useful stoneware items such as beer bottles. Some sources say the company began in 1815 with a partnership between John Doulton (1793-1873), John Watts, and Martha Jones, a widow whose late husband owned a pottery in Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth, a London district located one mile southeast of Charing Cross.
The firm was briefly named Jones, Watts and Doulton, but around 1820, the name was changed to Doulton and Watts. Watts retired in 1853, and in 1854, the company became just Doulton and Company. This history is rather confusing because some sources do not mention Jones, Watts and Doulton, but just say that Doulton and Watts began working in February 1820.
The mark found on the piece belonging to T. B. was used by Doulton on wares made in its Burslem facility between 1886 and 1902. Burslem is located in the Famous Staffordshire district and is one of the six towns that merged to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
The crown was added above the Doulton logo in 1886 when Henry Doulton was appointed potter to His Royal Highness, Edward the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII, 1901-1910). In 1902, King Edward issued a royal warrant and Doulton became Royal Doulton.
The mark on the piece in today’s question tells us more — most importantly, that this piece was once part of a larger dinnerware service in a pattern named “Athol.” This pattern came in a variety of styles, all transfer printed with an urn, dolphin and scroll band. Some had the design in blue on white (some of these were gilded, others were not) others were brown and white, still others were multi-colored with a red rim and blue and yellow patches around the pattern.
The covered vegetable bowl in today’s question appears to be blue and white with some gilded scrolls around and on the handles. This particular pattern does not turn up much when the replacement services are checked (at least not the ones we examined), but we did find four or five pieces on eBay.
This covered vegetable is of interest to collectors because it is a covered dish (open pieces are less desirable). Its pattern is rather neoclassical in design, and the blue and white color scheme appeals to many enthusiasts. Much English china, however, is experiencing a slump, and the insurance replacement value is less than it would have been 10 years ago. Still, this piece, which was made between 1891 and 1902, is a useful piece with an insurance replacement value in the $85 to $125 range.
Write to Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN 37927, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like your question to be considered for the column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus.