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THERE ARE 33 "LEARN MORE ABOUT..." TOPICS
Brass Advertising | British Placenames | British Royalty on Thimbles | British Silversmiths | Charles May | Christmas | Coalport
Dorcas Thimble Boxes | Easter | Gadgets | Francesca | Hallmarked Thimbles set | Miscellaneous Thimbles | 'Mother'
The World's Greatest Porcelain Houses | Royal Albert | Royal Crown Derby | Royal Doulton | Royal Worcester Handpainted Thimbles
Royal Worcester Decal Thimbles | S + H Foskett | Silver Advertising Thimbles | Spode | Stratnoid | SylvaC
Thimble Books | Thimble Collectors Club | Thimble Societies | Thimbles with Slogans
Thimblefuls | Victorian Silver Scenic Thimbles | Wedgwood Jasperware | Wedgwood Bone China

THERE ARE 20 PAGES OF THIMBLES & OTHER ITEMS TO BUY
aluminium 1 | books 1 | brass 1 | china 5 | display cases 1
needlework tools 2 | other collectables 1 | pewter 1 | plastic 1
silver 3 | steel & metal 1 | unusual materials 1 | wood 1


I was a collector of Royal Doulton china handpainted figurines, before I began collecting thimbles of any kind. These figurines are their most recognisable and collectable item, though there isn't anything that can be made of china or stoneware that hasn't been made by Royal Doulton!!
I joined the Royal Doulton International Collectors Club, based in London, in 1983 and remained a member for 15 years. Once I became a thimble collector, I scoured the pages of their quarterly magazine for any mention or article on thimbles - in vain!!

My interest in Royal Doulton in all its forms - our dinner service is made by Royal Doulton (in the era when it was still manufactured in Burslem in the English Potteries, and not in Indonesia), stood me in good stead to appreciate the qualities of good English bone china. My children grew up using their Royal Doulton Bunnykins plates.
Who can forget the TV character Hyacinth Bucket extolling the virtues of Royal "Doolton" in Keeping Up Appearances?

Royal Doulton didn't only produce bone china items for the diningroom or to grace the china cabinet - they were famous for their toilets, their stoneware pipes, the glorious glazed tile panels made for Britain's Children's Hospitals, featuring nursery rhymes - floor and fireplace tiles = all from the Royal Doulton factory in Lambeth London. There is a highly collectable range of Royal Doulton Australiana - produced from 1879 thru to the 1980s.
The vast Toby Jug range, available in 3 sizes - collectors' plates - down to china brooches - the list is endless - all originate from the Lambeth and Burslem factories.

This porcelain company was founded in 1815 by John Doulton and John Watts in Lambeth London, but it was under Henry Doulton's lifetime that Royal Doulton became the famous company it still is.

Royal Doulton thimbles continued to be elusive as my thimble collection grew and their output was minimal, compared to other equally well-known English china manufacturers - like Royal Worcester, Coalport, Royal Crown Derby, Spode and Wedgwood. The most well known Royal Doulton thimbles are those featuring Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge thimbles, which were produced in two sets - in 1982 and 1983. Their production of thimbles ended with two larger sets in 1994 and 1995. In between, there were only six thimble designs produced!!

Prior to the issue of the 1994 and 1995 sets, Royal Doulton issued 3 sets of Minton thimbles. These are out of the scope of this little study as the main backstamp is for Minton, with a mark for Royal Doulton. I class these as Minton thimbles, tho they are the same shape as the RD 1994 and 1995 sets.
For the Minton thimble sets - see - Learn More About ... Miscellaneous Thimbles

Similarly the set issued by Royal Doulton but with the "William Morris Collection" backstamp, but with no Royal Doulton backstamp, is outside the scope of this topic.

You will notice a distinct change in shape from the thimbles made by RD in the 1980s and early 1990s to those made from 1994 onwards. The earlier ones are tall and distinctive and the same shape as used for the Royal Albert thimble range. The RD moulds must have been replaced, as I have not seen the earlier shaped RD thimbles after 1991. The later [1994- ] Royal Doulton thimbles are the same shape as the Royal Crown Derby thimbles which were made from 1986 - shorter with a more pronounced apex. They were part of the same group at that stage. Was it just economics that made RD change to using the same thimble mould as RCD? Or changing tastes? Yet Royal Albert continued with the identical older shaped thimbles throughout? That's the vagaries of thimble manufacturing and thimble production would have formed a miniscule part of Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Royal Crown Derby wares.

The RD thimble range is only made from bone china (tho not always backstamped as such) - as against fine bone china - there is also a highly collectable range of Royal Doulton crystal thimbles. I know that there are only around 50 different RD china thimbles made, plus 12 crystal - that's easily attainable to collectors, isn't it?

Royal Doulton purchased Minton in 1968. In 1972 there was a merger which included Ridgway | Royal Adderley | Royal Crown Derby | Royal Albert | Paragon. Now who knows who owns who, after the Wedgwood Waterford group went into receivership in January 2009 - Royal Doulton was part of that Waterford Wedgwood group.

Paragon is one of the backstamps - with thimbles made in 1984 for the Los Angeles Olympics - that include "A member of the Royal Doulton Group" inside the thimbles. The thimble shape is in the same mould as the earlier RD thimbles.


These Royal Doulton thimbles are arranged in numerical order of the date they were first produced.

1980 | 1982 | 1983 | 1985 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1994 | 1995 | 2004 | OTHERS | CRYSTAL

1980
Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses
this the first thimble produced by Royal Doulton
it was designed as one in the set of 25 for Franklin Mint
entitled Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses

with a green abbreviated Royal Doulton backstamp

Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses

the certificate

fine bone china
the pattern continues around the thimble
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1982
Brambly Hedge
Royal Doulton had the following set of four thimbles made for
The Thimble Collectors Club [TCC]
after the popularity of
the Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge books for children


each brown backstamp matches the name of each season's thimble
with an abbreviated Royal Doulton backstamp
each has a mark for Jill Barklem's illustrations

Autumn
pink
BUY THIS THIMBLE

Spring
yellow

Summer
green

Winter
blue

china
the floral patterning continues around the thimble
each design has a different back colour
with a type of cake or icecream in the centre

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1983
Brambly Hedge
after the success of the first Brambly Hedge thimbles
a complementary set of 8 from Royal Doulton appeared the following year
with two different designs for each season


Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge thimble box

each brown backstamp matches the name of each season
with a brown abbreviated Royal Doulton backstamp
each has a mark for Jill Barklem's illustrations
the brown design name is also included inside

Lady Woodmouse
Autumn

"Oh dear! said Lady Daisy
Primrose is such a little mouse where she can be"

Primrose Sleeping
Autumn

"Her Mother gave Princess a kiss and smoothed her pillow"

Mrs Apple
Spring

"At last the sun began to sink behind the far woods It was time to go home"

Wilfred Played his Whistle
Spring

"Wilfred stood up and played hickory, dickory dandelion clock on his new whistle"

Basil in the Rushes
Summer

"Basil selected some white wines, Primrose, Meadowsweet and Elderflower, and hung them to cool in the rushes"

The Wedding
Summer

"All the mice cheered as Dusty kissed his bride and the bridesmaids threw baskets of petals over the happy couple"

Clover Toasting Bread
Winter

"Mrs Toadflax put fresh wood on the fire and set Clover to work with the toasting fork"

The Little Children
Winter

"The children climbed out of their bunk beds to watch the snowflakes falling past the window"

china
the verse on the verso is a quote from the book
to match Jill Barklem's illustrations
of her little mice characters
Royal Doulton did not make thimbles for all of the main characters of Barklem's books

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1985
The Hallmarked Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses
This thimble produced by Royal Doulton
was designed as one of the set of 50 for The Thimble Collectors Club [TCC]
entitled The Hallmarked Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses


The Hallmarked Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses
china
the dotted pattern continues around the thimble
with a gilt Royal Doulton backstamp forming part of the design
there is no inner backstamp

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1988
Spanish Armada 1588-1988
this is the only Commemorative thimble produced by Royal Doulton
it is currently unknown who commissioned this for the Spanish Armada 400 year celebrations


this is one of two full Royal Doulton thimble backstamps
in blue

back of the Armada thimble box showing the date

400th Anniversary of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988
bone china

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1988
The Warwick Castle Rose
this seems a privately commissioned thimble by Royal Doulton
it is currently unknown who commissioned this thimble - the Castle - for tourism purposes?


a dual-coloured abbreviated Royal Doulton backstamp

The Warwick Castle Rose
china

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1989
Trojan Summer Collection


Trojan Summer Collection

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1990
The Snowmen Gift Collection
I am only including this set for posterity
when the Snowmen range of merchandise was released by Royal Doulton in 1990, I checked for a range of thimbles - with no joy
2 prototype sets only were produced
they are a set of 6
identifying lettering on each verso


verso lettering


Snowmen

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1991
The Balloon Seller
Thimble Collectors Society [TCC] commissioned this thimble from Royal Doulton
this is the only thimble that is modelled on a Royal Doulton figurine
Leslie Harradine designed the figurine in 1915 and it is one of the most well-known of the Doulton figurines
this is the last of the taller shaped thimble moulds that RD used


this is one of two full Royal Doulton thimble backstamps
in green

The Balloon Seller
bone china
PS - you can now tell whose thimble smashed!!

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1994
The First Royal Doulton Thimble Collection
Lawleys by Post, the mail order arm of Royal Doulton
marketed this set of 12 thimbles
I purchased this set to have the Flambe thimble!!
the patterns were from established designs in the Royal Doulton range of tableware
from the 1890s to 1990s
the date included is the first time the pattern or process, in the case of the Flambe glaze, was introduced


brown abbreviated Royal Doulton thimble backstamp

flambe abbreviated Royal Doulton thimble backstamp

brochure of full set on the presentation stand

brochure of full set with descriptions

original advert for set of 12 on wooden plinth

Albany
original pattern designed by Anne Holmes-Smith | 1987

Arcadia
original pattern designed by Percy Curnock | 1946

Canton
original pattern designed by John Dennison | 1978

Carlyle
original pattern designed by Walter Hayward | 1989

Cathay
original pattern designed by Hugh Saunders | 1989

Flambe
original pattern perfected by Cuthbert Bailey | c.1903

Floradora
c.1905

Martinique
original pattern designed by Marilyn Hankinson | 1990

Princeton
original pattern designed by Hugh Saunders | 1986

Real Old Willow
1912

Regalia
original pattern designed by Hugh Saunders | 1987

Sandon
original pattern designed by Hugh Saunders | 1990

china
most of these thimbles have the same patterning all round
this is the first time Royal Doulton used the new thimble moulds
a shorter squatter shape

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1995
The William Morris Collection
marketed by Lawleys by Post, the mail order arm of Royal Doulton
this 14 thimble set was authorised by the Victoria and Albert Museum
1996 sets were commissioned - I wonder if all of them were made?
it will be one set that I will need to show both sides of the thimble
for better identification


full set on the presentation stand

accompanying leaflet

Acanthus

African Marigold

Bluebell and Columbine

Cray

Daisy

Eden

Grafton

Iris

Larkspur

Pomegranate

Strawberry Thief

Sunflower

Tom Tit

Vine

china
the thimbles have a matching colour trim at both ends of the thimble

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2004
Bunnykins
this thimble produced by Royal Doulton
was made in China
the packaging is important to record these details
were there any other similar thimbles produced?


Playful
the shape is totally different from all other RD thimbles

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Others - date unknown
Carousel
Thimble Collectors Society [TCC] commissioned this thimble from Royal Doulton
this is a unique Royal Doulton shape
was this the shape between the taller and squatter shapes?


Carousel



brown flowers
with a different RD backstamp

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Crystal
Thumbelina
made by the glasshouses of William Corbett
which was owned by Royal Doulton
the first set of 6 were produced in the early 1980s
it seems that there are 2 sets of these thimbles - with gold rims and those without
crystal thimbles are notoriously difficult to photograph!!


one side of the accompanying leaflet

the inner side of the accompanying leaflet

Royal Doulton crystal thimbles box


Clear

Cut
with & without the gold band

Engraved

Engraved with gold band

Intaglio

Sand blasted

there are no maker's marks
and the names are taken from the accompanying leaflet
once the thimble is separated from its leaflet or Royal Doulton thimble box
they become unidentifiable
some have gold bands - others just show the glassmakers' skills
the apexes are flat with slight indentations

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Crystal
Embroidery Stitches
made by the glasshouses of Thomas Webb
which was owned by Royal Doulton
the 2nd set were also produced in the 1980s
but there were only 4 not 6 designs
using stitches is a very clever marketing tactic
as many thimble collectors sew as well!


the boxed set of 4

the verso of these thimbles


Blanket Stitch

Cross-Stitch

Herringbone Stitch

Lazy Daisy Stitch

there are no maker's marks
the names are lettered for each stitch
under the example of the well known embroidery stitch
with a threaded needle
each has 4 crystal cut stars on the verso
and a well faceted apex

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DO YOU KNOW ANY MORE DETAILS ABOUT
ROYAL DOULTON THIMBLES
THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER COLLECTORS?

YOU MAY KNOW OF MISSING THIMBLES or HAVE BETTER PHOTOS

EMAIL thimbleselect@bigpond.com TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.


References

Desmond Eyles and Richard Dennis Royal Doulton Figures produced at Burslem Staffordshire. 1978


Contributors

Peter Cormack | Linda Heggs | Margaret Hickling | Linda Samaripa | Karen Stoner | Jean Taylor | Sharon Underwood | Sue Wilson | Mave Wiskin


This listing of Royal Doulton thimbles does not purport to be complete or accurate in all aspects
Rather it invites comment and contribution to add to our knowledge of these Royal Doulton collectable thimbles
My thanks to the other contributors

Enjoy!


© Sue Gowan
May 2009


THERE ARE 33 "LEARN MORE ABOUT..." TOPICS
Brass Advertising | British Placenames | British Royalty on Thimbles | British Silversmiths | Charles May | Christmas | Coalport
Dorcas Thimble Boxes | Easter | Gadgets | Francesca | Hallmarked Thimbles set | Miscellaneous Thimbles | 'Mother'
The World's Greatest Porcelain Houses | Royal Albert | Royal Crown Derby | Royal Doulton | Royal Worcester Handpainted Thimbles
Royal Worcester Decal Thimbles | S + H Foskett | Silver Advertising Thimbles | Spode | Stratnoid | SylvaC
Thimble Books | Thimble Collectors Club | Thimble Societies | Thimbles with Slogans
Thimblefuls | Victorian Silver Scenic Thimbles | Wedgwood Jasperware | Wedgwood Bone China

THERE ARE 20 PAGES OF THIMBLES & OTHER ITEMS TO BUY
aluminium 1 | books 1 | brass 1 | china 5 | display cases 1
needlework tools 2 | other collectables 1 | pewter 1 | plastic 1
silver 3 | steel & metal 1 | unusual materials 1 | wood 1

Any questions or comments?
thimbleselect@bigpond.com
I do not offer any type of valuation or advice on prices.

  Last updated 5 November 2013  
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