learn more about royal doulton thimbles

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, with its royal warrant,  tho most of their products are made offshore in Thailand and not in Britain. The company still has its headquarters in The Potteries, at Stoke-on-Trent but there is no Royal Doulton factory in England.


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, tho you should look at the thimbles below, from 2004. In between 1983 and 1994, 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 A Miscellaney of Thimbles



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, which 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 thimble designs 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.


Click on the following link to "Learn more about..."

Royal Doulton thimbles

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 contributors.




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






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© Sue Gowan

May 2009







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