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How Can You Date Your Royal Doulton Figurine?

Written by on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 02:00PM
Filed in: Information
collectible, figurine, gifts, Royal Doulton, Royal Doulton figurines, valuation
Comments: 6

A figure in a flowing dress known as Wisdom, available through the Doulton Lady

Unlike some other suppliers, The Doulton Lady provides genuine 19th- and 20th-century figures whose appeal and beauty have stood the test of time.

The value of a Royal Doulton figurine depends partly on its age, but on other factors too such as its condition and designer. A valuer will be able to tell you just how much a piece is worth, but there are some questions you can answer yourself just by looking.

Know however that this is not an exact science - the system used changed considerably over the years and some records detailing what certain letter and number combinations might have meant have been lost.

Under the right circumstances however, you can determine a lot about the figure such as its age and designer or painter.

The main giveaway is the stamp, which can vary very much between individual figures, so you need a little more information to understand what it's telling you.

The stamp in fact does tell you more than just the age, as many of them are signed with the initials of the painter. And since the design of the stamp itself changed over time, even just knowing the format can allow you to place the piece within a certain date range.

You can find the stamp on the base of the figure. Firstly, you'll probably see a pair of initials. This identifies the painter of the figure. Harry Nixon (HN) was a prolific figure painter and the first to use his initials in the stamp. That practice started in 1912.

From 1872 until that point, a simple 'Royal Doulton' stamp was used, with no other specific characteristics on the mark. So don't be disappointed if there are no initials - it doesn't mean you've got a fake, but is in fact a pretty good indication that your figure was one of the first made.

If you have one of the more detailed stamps, you may see a number alongside the initials. That number indicates the number of years following 1927 that that figurine was produced. Simply add the number to 1927 to determine the year of manufacture.

This practice seems to have stopped around the 1950s however, and while a dating system continues to have been used, it is not simple to interpret. The number would not simply state the month or the year in the usual format.

While the date tends to be that that the mould was produced, and not when the figure itself was made, moulds wore out quickly, and so this is actually a good indicator of the age of the piece.

So as you can see, there is some guesswork and estimation involved - we don't have the space to go into detail about what all the cryptic marks could possibly mean. Your best bet is to have your figure professionally valued - they will hopefully tell you not just the date but the price you could ask if you were to sell your figure based on other factors too.

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  1. good information I like the history etc. such beautiful figerines hope they come back into being sought after, could you tell me approx. how many collecters are still out there apart from me!!

    Written on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 13:08hrs by Helen

  2. Are the interpretations of the cryptic marks written anywhere?

    Written on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 1:55hrs by Barbara Rutherford

  3. Fabulous and incredibly informative. Still a tad confused, but less so. Many thanks

    Written on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 21:40hrs by Alice Maclennan Whitfield

  4. I have a few Royal Dolton pieces from my grandfather's collection that I chose to keep because they remind me of him. When recently researching a few I found they were manufactured for a number of years until retirement. My question is if there is a method to dating the piece- for example figure HN 2162- was originally released in 1954 but was produced through 1992. I have seen people selling them with photos of the stamps in different places or with punctuation etc and would like to know if this is helpful in identifying the year. I hope this makes sense as I am a novice in every sense of the word when it comes to porcelain collectibles. Any help is appreciated, Cheers! Becky Elizabeth

    Written on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 6:23hrs by Becky

  5. My apologies as my phone autocorrected "Doulton" to "Dolton" and I didn't have my new reading specs to catch it before publishing the previous inquiry. Thanks again, Becky Elizabeth

    Written on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 6:25hrs by Becky

  6. How do you date reg numbers on base of figurines

    Written on Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 11:39hrs by Irene Rippingale

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