Featured Museum Piece
Silver Trimmed Tobacco Jar/ Humidor by Royal Doulton China Company
Our museum selection this month is a one-of-a-kind, signed humidor from the world famous Royal Doulton China Company. The brown porcelain piece stands 12" tall, with a removable porcelain lid, and features an artist’s rendering of two gentlemen smoking pipes. There is also silver trim on the piece that was provided by Cross Silver. Our research team has determined this piece was produced by Royal Doulton around 1920. Because of the rarity and collectible nature of this piece, we have not polished the silver on the humidor. The piece has been apparently signed by the artist with the letters “ NOK.”
Humidors became popular at the beginning of the 20th century when smoking pipe tobacco reached its zenith. Tobacco aficionados realized that tobacco best kept its flavor if it was stored at a constant temperature and humidity, around 72 degrees at about 70% humidity. Humidors were made in all shapes and sizes. Some were small porcelain jars, like the one featured here. Others were small wooden boxes and some were the size of cabinets.
The history of Royal Doulton spans nearly two centuries and is very intriguing. John Doulton was born in 1793 in Fulham, England. He spent his youth working as an apprentice for the Fulham Pottery Co. of London. While working at Fulham Pottery, Doulton was known as a thrower because he threw lumps of clay on a potter’s wheel and molded them into pots, jugs, pitchers, and bowls. By 1815, John Doulton had become tired of the Fulham Pottery Co. and partnered with John Watts to create a new pottery house. The new business flourished and eventually relocated to Lambeth, England. Although the Doulton and Watts pottery house produced pots, jugs, and pitchers, their primary focus at that time lay in producing industrial materials. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, Doulton and Watts produced vessels for storing industrial chemicals as well as industrial-strength tile. By 1830, John Doulton’s sons had joined the management of the factory. As the company grew, so did its interest in producing quality ceramics for the home.
Two of John Doulton’s sons, Henry and Frederick, left Doulton and Watts to open Henry Doulton and Co. Henry’s desire was to employ his skills as a potter to produce more industrial materials, including pipes and tile. In 1847, John Doulton’s oldest son, John Doulton, Jr., also left the Lambeth factory to open his own ceramics mill. Turmoil in the European and American financial markets forced the three firms, Doulton and Watts, Henry Doulton and Co., and John Doulton, Jr., to dissolve. In 1853, the three firms regrouped as Doulton and Co. John Doulton died in 1873, but the company continued to grow and expand. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, the company continued producing industrial materials as well as a growing complement of household ceramics. Queen Victoria knighted Henry Doulton in 1887. In 1901, King Edward VII conferred upon Doulton and Co. the honor of a Royal Warrant. During this time, Doulton also produced ceramic vessels capable of holding porous stones that filtered bacteria, contaminants, and pollution out of drinking water. The excesses of the industrial age had polluted the River Thames, London’s primary source of drinking water. The water purifier that Doulton and Co. produced was easily adapted to the needs of the Royal Family, British Military, and hospitals, and brought the Doulton’s additional fame throughout England.
After the Royal Warrant was issued, Doulton and Co. became Royal Doulton. The company began producing many collectible items including character jugs and figurines. Henry Doulton realized that there was a growing demand for mass produced figurines in the Edwardian lady’s home. Royal Doulton began to invest its resources in skillful art directors and sculptors. By 1910, Royal Doulton had introduced 40 Royal Doulton figurines. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the company continued to introduce lines of miniature and full-scale Royal Doulton figurines. After World War II, the Royal Doulton china company decided that the company’s primary focus would be tableware and therefore reduced its presence in industrial materials market. Since WWII, Royal Doulton has acquired Minton and Royal Albert and started marketing a line of Royal Doulton crystal products. Throughout its history, the Royal Doulton china company has remained committed to creating striking tableware products and exquisite Royal Doulton figurines.
Royal Doulton pieces are wonderful and the museum piece we feature this month is quite a period piece. While this rare museum piece is not offered for sale, we do have a wonderful selection of patterns by Royal Doulton that are available for sale. Come visit us and see this amazing humidor in person, and leave with your arms full of pieces of Royal Doulton tableware to take back to your home. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. Make plans to visit us soon!
Click here to view our Featured Museum Pieces Archive!