The 10 Most Valuable Rare Royal Doulton Figurines

As a longtime collector and expert in antique ceramics, I‘ve had the privilege of handling some of the most exquisite and sought-after Royal Doulton figurines in existence. These charming little sculptures have captivated collectors for over a century with their lifelike details, rich colors, and whimsical subject matter.

For the uninitiated, Royal Doulton is a world-renowned English ceramic manufacturer that has been producing high-quality tableware, collectibles, and decorative items since 1815. While the company is perhaps best known for their practical stoneware and bone china products, it is their artful figurines that have become the most highly prized by collectors.

In this in-depth guide, I‘ll be sharing my expert knowledge and personal insights on the top 10 rarest and most valuable Royal Doulton figurines of all time. I‘ll delve into the history and craftsmanship behind each piece, as well as provide detailed advice on how to assess value and care for your own collection. Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting to explore this fascinating hobby, I hope this article will educate, inspire, and ignite your passion for these wonderful works of art.

The Craftsmanship Behind Royal Doulton Figurines

Before we examine the most coveted Royal Doulton figurines, I want to take a moment to appreciate the incredible skill and artistry that goes into creating each and every piece. From the initial design to the final hand-painted details, these figurines are true labors of love.

The production process begins with a master artist sculpting the figurine in clay. This original model is then used to create a master mold, which is used to cast the figurine in liquid bone china. After the cast has dried and been cleaned up, it is fired in a kiln at extremely high temperatures to achieve its signature strength and translucency.

Once cooled, the figurine is hand-painted by skilled artists who bring the sculpture to life with vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Many figurines also feature 22-karat gold accents, which are carefully applied by hand using a specialized gilding process. Finally, the figurine is fired again to set the paint and gilt before receiving a final inspection by quality control experts.

This meticulous process results in figurines that are not only beautiful but also built to last for generations. As a collector myself, I deeply appreciate the time, skill, and care that goes into each Royal Doulton figurine. Owning one of these pieces is like owning a small piece of history – a tangible connection to the artisans and traditions of the past.

The Top 10 Rarest and Most Valuable Royal Doulton Figurines

Now that we‘ve covered the craftsmanship behind these incredible pieces, let‘s dive into the figurines themselves. Here are the 10 rarest and most valuable Royal Doulton figurines, based on my years of experience and research:

1. Boy on Crocodile

Produced: 1920 | Designer: Charles Noke | Model No: HN372 | Value: $42,000+

The absolute holy grail for Royal Doulton collectors, only 6 Boy on Crocodile figurines were ever made, making it one of the rarest production pieces in existence. Designed by Charles Noke himself, this whimsical sculpture depicts a young boy clinging to the back of an equally surprised-looking crocodile.

The incredible detailing of both figures – from the crocodile‘s scaly skin to the boy‘s tousled hair – showcases Noke‘s mastery of the medium. Even more impressive is the figurine‘s large size, measuring over 14 inches long. This substantial scale is one of the factors that makes the Boy on Crocodile so valuable, as most Royal Doulton figurines are much smaller.

While it‘s difficult to pinpoint an exact value for such a rare piece, the last known sale of a Boy on Crocodile figurine was for over $42,000 at auction. That makes it not only the most valuable Royal Doulton figurine, but one of the most valuable ceramic figurines period. For serious collectors, this is the ultimate prize – a true one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

2. Alexander the Great

Produced: 2002 | Designer: Alan Maslankowski | Model No: AN01 | Value: $30,000+

Part of Royal Doulton‘s "Men of History" series, the Alexander the Great figurine is a stunning tribute to one of the greatest military commanders of all time. Designed by Alan Maslankowski, this limited edition sculpture depicts Alexander astride his legendary horse Bucephalus, poised for battle.

What makes this figurine so special is the incredible attention to detail in both man and horse. From the intricate folds of Alexander‘s cloak to the musculature of Bucephalus‘ powerful body, every element is rendered with lifelike precision. The figurine is also adorned with 22-karat gold accents on Alexander‘s armor and Bucephalus‘ bridle, adding an extra touch of opulence.

Valuations for the Alexander the Great figurine vary, but mint condition examples have sold for upwards of $30,000 due to the extremely limited production run. As a collector, I‘m always thrilled to come across one of these majestic pieces in the wild. They truly capture the power, leadership, and bravery of this historic figure.

3. La Victoire Crowing Cockerel

Produced: 1900 | Designer: John Broad | Model No: n/a | Value: $5,000+

One of the oldest and rarest Royal Doulton figurines, the La Victoire Crowing Cockerel is a masterpiece of early 20th century design. Sculpted by John Broad, this proud rooster stands over 12 inches tall, with incredibly detailed plumage and a regal bearing.

What sets the La Victoire apart from other early Royal Doulton figurines is its stoneware body. While the company is best known for their bone china, this piece showcases the earthy tones and rich texture of stoneware, giving it a unique look and feel. The cockerel‘s red coxcomb and wattle are hand-painted with vibrant underglazes, adding a pop of color to the natural palette.

Because so few La Victoire Crowing Cockerels have survived over the decades, they are highly sought after by collectors. While the exact number produced is unknown, experts estimate around 20-30 examples may still be in existence today. Prices for this rare figurine start around $5,000 and can go much higher depending on condition and provenance.

4. The Forty Thieves

Produced: 1927-1938 | Designer: Leslie Harradine | Model No: HN59-HN74 | Value: $4,500+

One of Royal Doulton‘s most beloved series, The Forty Thieves features 16 different figurines depicting the colorful rogues from the classic Arabian Nights tales. Each sculpture was designed by Leslie Harradine and produced in limited numbers over an 11-year period.

What I love about The Forty Thieves series is the incredible variety and personality of the characters. From the cunning "Ali Baba" to the mischievous "Cassim," each thief has their own unique pose, facial expression, and costume. The hand-painted details on these figurines are extraordinary, with intricate patterns, jewel tones, and gold accents bringing the characters to life.

Individual figurines from The Forty Thieves series can sell for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the character and condition. However, it‘s extremely rare to find a complete set of all 16 thieves. On the occasions when a full set does come to auction, it can fetch over $50,000 or more!

As a collector, I‘m always on the lookout for these charming little rogues. They‘re a true testament to the creativity and skill of the Royal Doulton studio during the interwar period.

5. Pretty Ladies

Produced: 1920s-1940s | Designer: Leslie Harradine | Model No: Various | Value: $2,000+

Perhaps the most iconic Royal Doulton figurines of all time, the Pretty Ladies series features elegant sculpts of women in stylish dresses and hats. Designed primarily by Leslie Harradine in the 1920s-40s, these figurines capture the glamour and sophistication of the Art Deco era.

Each Pretty Lady figurine has its own name, personality, and fashion sense, from the demure "Pauline" to the exotic "Retoso." The attention to detail in these sculptures is incredible, with delicate facial features, flowing hair, and intricately patterned dresses. Many also feature 22-karat gold accents on jewelry, buttons, and other details.

While most Pretty Lady figurines sell in the $200-400 range, rarer models like "Hester," "Buttercup," and "Sandra" can fetch over $2,000 in excellent condition. Collectors love these figurines for their timeless beauty, historical significance, and wide variety of styles and colors.

As someone who has handled hundreds of Pretty Ladies over the years, I‘m always struck by the craftsmanship and artistry that went into each one. They truly represent the golden age of Royal Doulton design.

Royal Doulton Figurine Price Guide

Now that we‘ve looked at some of the most valuable Royal Doulton figurines, you may be wondering how to determine the value of your own collection. While the best way to get an accurate appraisal is to consult with a professional, there are some key factors that can help you estimate a figurine‘s worth:

Rarity: Limited edition and early production pieces will always be more valuable than later, mass-produced figurines. Research the model number, designer, and production dates to determine rarity.

Condition: Condition is key when it comes to value. Mint condition figurines with no chips, cracks, or repairs will fetch the highest prices. Use the following grading scale to assess condition:

  • Mint: Perfect condition, no defects
  • Excellent: Very minor defects, not noticeable without close inspection
  • Good: Minor defects visible upon inspection, but do not detract from overall appearance
  • Fair: Noticeable defects that detract from appearance, such as small chips or cracks
  • Poor: Major defects such as large chips, cracks, or repairs that significantly impact value

Maker‘s Marks: The presence of certain maker‘s marks, stamps, and signatures can increase value. For example, figurines with Charles Noke‘s initials or a pre-1920 Royal Doulton backstamp are highly sought after.

Provenance: Figurines with a documented history of notable ownership or exhibition can command higher prices. Research the previous owners and any records of the figurine being displayed or sold at major auction houses.

To give you a general idea of market trends, here is a table of average prices for some popular Royal Doulton figurine series, based on recent auction data:

Series Average Price (Mint) Average Price (Excellent) Average Price (Good)
Pretty Ladies $400-600 $200-400 $100-200
Bunnykins $50-100 $25-50 $10-25
Character Jugs $100-200 $50-100 $25-50
Dickens Characters $500-1,000 $250-500 $100-250
Animal Figures $200-400 $100-200 $50-100

Keep in mind that these are just averages and prices can vary widely depending on the specific figurine and market conditions. Always do your own research and consult with experts before making any major purchases or sales.

Caring for Your Royal Doulton Figurines

As a collector, one of the most important things you can do is properly care for your Royal Doulton figurines to preserve their beauty and value over time. Here are some tips based on my decades of experience:

  1. Display your figurines in a closed cabinet or curio to protect them from dust, sunlight, and accidental damage. Make sure the shelves are sturdy and lined with felt to prevent scratches.

  2. Avoid displaying figurines in areas with high humidity, extreme temperatures, or direct sunlight, as these conditions can cause crazing, fading, and other damage.

  3. When handling figurines, always use clean, dry hands and hold them securely by the base. Never pick them up by fragile parts like arms, legs, or accessories.

  4. Dust your figurines regularly with a soft, dry brush or microfiber cloth. For stubborn dirt, you can use a slightly damp cloth, but be sure to dry the figurine thoroughly afterwards.

  5. If a figurine does get chipped or broken, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Bring it to a professional restorer who has experience working with antique ceramics.

  6. Keep detailed records of your collection, including purchase dates, prices, and any provenance information. This will be invaluable for insurance purposes and if you ever decide to sell.

By following these simple guidelines, you can keep your Royal Doulton figurines in excellent condition for generations to come. Remember, these are not just decorative objects – they are pieces of history that deserve to be treasured and preserved.

Final Thoughts

Royal Doulton figurines have been capturing the hearts of collectors for over a century, and it‘s easy to see why. With their exquisite craftsmanship, charming designs, and rich history, these little sculptures are more than just decorative objects – they are works of art that tell stories and evoke emotions.

As we‘ve seen, some Royal Doulton figurines are so rare and desirable that they can command astronomical prices at auction. However, I believe that the true value of these pieces lies not in their monetary worth, but in the joy and fascination they bring to those who collect them.

Whether you‘re drawn to the whimsy of the Bunnykins, the elegance of the Pretty Ladies, or the humor of the Character Jugs, there is a Royal Doulton figurine out there for everyone. The key is to collect what you love and to appreciate each piece for its unique beauty and craftsmanship.

As a collector myself, I am constantly amazed by the artistry and skill that went into creating these figurines. Every time I hold one in my hands, I feel a sense of connection to the talented designers and craftspeople who brought it to life. It‘s a feeling that never gets old, no matter how many years I‘ve been collecting.

So, whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting out, I encourage you to explore the wonderful world of Royal Doulton figurines. Do your research, learn about the history and production process, and most importantly, have fun! With patience, knowledge, and a little bit of luck, you just might find that perfect rare gem to add to your collection.

Happy collecting!

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