Among the most elusive of all Royal Doulton HN series figures is the curious model of a winged cherub astride a crocodilian known simply as ‘Boy on a Crocodile’.
Designed by Charles Noke in 1920, HN373 is
well known via the collecting literature but, with fewer than half
a dozen recorded, only rarely do they appear on the
The Boy on a Crocodile in the Royal
Doulton Museum collection dispersed by Bonhams in October 2004 sold
for £7500 while another offered by Bearnes of Exeter in July 2006
So Doulton specialistsLouis Taylorof Hanley,
Stoke-on-Trent were pleasantly surprised when another arrived over
the counter in time for their two-day antiques sale last month.
It was not in the best condition (the head
and a claw had been broken and reglued and the metallic reins that
are secured via two holes in the crocodile's mouth were missing),
but the auctioneers were happy to enter it with an estimate of
It was the first time they had sold this
model (although in December 2011 they had taken £880 for a related
white-glazed figure of the crocodile, minus its rider). Huge
interest followed and bidding reached £7000 before it sold to a
buyer in the United States.
Two Doulton one-off prototype figures of
jesters were consigned by a collector with estimates of £4000-6000
apiece. Neither was of any great age (marked to the base
Property of Royal Doulton Factory, they were perhaps as
recent as the 1990s), but the subject matter has particular
resonance with Doulton figure collectors.
The 9½in (23cm) figure of a kneeling jester
holding a lute sold for £5000, while a similar 10in (25cm) group of
a jester seated on a panelled chest, a juggling ball in his hand,
Both sold to a UK collector against
competition from America.
Two factory prototypes among the character
jugs generated four-figure sums.
The most desirable of these was a piece that
never made it into production, a large jug of John
Gilpin whose exploits on a runaway horse provided the
basis for a popular 18th century comic ballad. The poem tells how
Gilpin and his wife and children became separated during a journey
to the Bell Inn, Edmonton - the name inscribed to the signpost that
forms the jug's handle.
Estimated at £3000-4000, it took £3600 from
an Australian collector.
Modelled by Stanley James Taylor, the
Thomas More jug (D6782) was issued in 1987 and today
sells for around £50. However, the example here, desirable for its
factory backstamp reading Property of Royal
Doulton and a certificate vouching for its authenticity,
The surprise package on the second day of
this March 11-12 sale was provided by a 6in (15cm) Carlton Ware
lustre vase decorated in the Art Deco style with a gossamer-winged
fairy. It created much interest and the hammer fell at £2500 - a
price many times the £100-150 estimate and somewhat reminiscent of
the market peak in the late 1990s.
The Fairy pattern, designed by
Violet Elmer (who also produced the equally elusive Red
Devil design) seems to have been produced in two
colourways, in lustre orange (pattern 3576) and in lustre blue
(pattern 3564) as seen here.
The buyer's premium was 17.5%.