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"A 'Chic' in Every Pot" Early Doulton Burslemware

By Suzanne Skwarski, Plank Road Questers #236

Nearly two-hundred years before the porcelain figurines and fine bone china dinnerware, simple stoneware products were the mainstay of the Doulton Company. Founder, John Doulton, was a trained potter who realized stoneware items could be useful in the fight to stop the spread of cholera and typhoid within the city of London.

He produced the first "sanitary ware" which were toilets, urinals, bath tubs, sinks, pipes, tiles, and insulators. When indoor plumbing and sanitation drains were introduced, clean water prevailed because of the tile industry. Service industries such as markets, hotels, and transportation stations incorporated the easy to maintain and clean Doulton stoneware products. As electricity replaced gas, the ceramic insulator demand also kept the Doulton business thriving. London's industrial growth created larger more efficient kilns that were able to mass produce huge amounts of products, including artistic consumer items. The fast growing middle class demanded artistic home goods that would adorn their homes as well as serve utilitarian purposes.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Henry Doulton established the Lambeth Studio which created artistic ceramic ware ranging in size from tiny miniatures to life-sized statuary. These ceramics graced many church pulpits, baptismal fonts, and alters throughout Europe. Techniques such as sprigging, lace appliqué, gold gilt, sgraffito, pate sur pate, agate, and faience rapidly peaked in popularity and thus, the business expanded. This economic boom created employment for both men and women and in turn, created more disposable income for the rising middle class. Henry Doulton was knighted for his business and humanitarian success and the company became Royal Doulton, in 1901. The Royal Doulton brand remains today as the hallmark of fine china and porcelain.

From the collection of Kay VanDeGraaf, Pettipointe #243
(Sources available upon request)

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