Our Museum Feature, the “Bobby Burns Plate,” is an outstanding example of the many collections of Series Ware that Royal Doulton produced in celebration of people, places, events, and literature significant to British history.
At the center of the plate is a formal, etched portrait of Robert Burns (1759–1796), also known as “Rabbie” or “Bobby” Burns. He was called “Scotland's favorite son,” and often, the “Ploughman Poet” – in the background of the portrait, a ploughman and his team of horses are depicted. Burns’s work defined him as a spokesman for the common man, and the political and social commentary in his poems was sometimes blunt.
Burns is the best-known of the British poets who wrote in Scots dialect. In addition to his original works, he also collected Scottish folk songs, and his work grew in popularity, even after his death. His song, “Auld Lang Syne,” is given voice worldwide, and his poems, “A Red, Red Rose” and “A Man’s a Man for A’That” are often recited. On the rim of the “Bobby Burns Plate” are beautifully rendered illustrations of some of the major characters in Burns’s poems and songs, including Tam O’Shanter, Highland Mary, and Duncan Gray.
Royal Doulton was founded in 1815, when John Doulton partnered with John Watts to create the pottery, Doulton and Watts, which eventually relocated to the town of Lambeth. While they produced pots, jugs, pitchers, and bowls, the company was primarily known for its production of large vessels for storing industrial materials. Over the years John Doulton’s sons, who had joined their father in the management of the business, eventually formed companies of their own. But turmoil in the British financial markets forced the businesses to dissolve. In 1853 they reformed as Doulton and Co. Although patriarch John Doulton died in 1873, the company continued to grow and expand. While Doulton and Co. produced industrial materials throughout the second half of the 19th century, there was growing emphasis on the production of quality household ceramics. In 1901, King Edward VII conferred a Royal Warrant for the company’s production of ceramic vessels holding porous stones that successfully filtered pollutants from the water of the Thames River, London’s primary source for drinking water. With the issue of the Royal Warrant, “Doulton and Co.” became “Royal Doulton.”
The plate backstamp, a crowned lion rampant standing atop a crown (obviously, the grant of the “Royal” warrant was a powerful marketing tool), was the standard impressed mark used by Royal Doulton 1902-1922 and 1927-1936. This stamp was applied to wares made both at the original factory in Lambeth and in their second location, the Burslem works, Stoke-on-Trent. At the bottom of the backstamp are the letter “D.,” indicating “Doulton,” and the numbers “6344.,” indicating the original Doulton pattern number.
While the Royal Doulton “Bobby Burns Plate” in our museum is not for sale, Replacements, Ltd. carries a broad range of Royal Doulton patterns, and thousands of other china patterns from which to choose. Be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities! Here you’ll find a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!