Japanese-style porcelain with a royal British pedigree


Q. Attached is a picture of a Doulton Burslem plate given to me by my mother who was an antique collector and dealer. I have ten of these plates.  I know that Doulton’s Burslem operation started in 1880. Some of the plates have hand lettered red markings on the back. Can you provide an approximate value?

A. John Doulton started his business in 1815 in Lambeth, England making things like sewer and drain pipes, chimney toppers and stoneware for laboratory use. In 1850, Doulton began experimenting with decorative ware when they developed a relationship with a neighboring art school. The hand painted decorative ware was such a success that in 1880 a second factory was opened in Burslem, England. It was in Burslem that Doulton began producing fine earthenware and eventually porcelain. The business grew and got the attention of the royal family. As a result, in 1901 Doulton was awarded a royal warrant by King Edward VII. Thus Doulton changed their name to “Royal Doulton”.

Your earthenware plates are from around 1886 and should have impressed on the underside the number “86” for this year or a number for a year close to it. The design is Asian in many ways. The red and blue colored glazes on a white background is commonly referred to as “Imari” style, and it originated in the town of Arita, Japan. The color combination was very popular and copied by many. Doulton manufactured many “Imari” patterns. In addition to the classic Imari colors, your plates have peacocks, flowers, fish in a river and dragonflies in the center. Your set of plates would sell at auction for around $300-$500 depending on condition.

Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter or email with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to trashortreasure@ymail.com. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, attn. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.

karen waterman


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.