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A Brief History Of Royal Crown Derby

Debbie Porter

A Brief History Of Royal Crown Derby

Royal Crown Derby is one of the oldest remaining English porcelain manufacturers, and is based fairly locally to Potteries Auctions in Osmaston Road, Derby. The company is known for its high-quality bone china and has been producing items of tableware and ornamental ware since 1750.

Lots 475 & 476 – Royal Crown Derby Burghley House two handled vase & cover, height 20cm, boxed with certificate.  Estimate £50.00 – £100.00.

The foundation of the Derby company was formed with a partnership between André Planché, (a Huguenot immigrant who made soft-paste vases and figurines), William Duesbury (a porcelain painter) and John Heath (a banker) in 1756, although production at the works at Cockpit Hill, Derby had begun before then.  This is evidenced by a creamware jug dated 1750 which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Lot 435 – Royal Crown Derby Kettle Teapot in the Old Imari 1128 design, height 18cm, boxed.  Estimate £200.00 – £400.00.

André Planché left the partnership and the business was further developed by Duesbury and Heath.  William Duesbury was a talented entrepreneur and he developed a new body which contained glass frit, soapstone and calcined bone. This enable the factory to start producing high-quality tableware.  He employed the best talent available for modelling and painting.  Richard Askew, who was particularly skilled at painting cupids did the figure painting.  Intricate floral patterns were designed and painted by William Billingsley.

Lot 432 – Royal Crown Derby two handled tray decorated in the Old Imari, 1128 design, length 41cm, boxed.  Estimate £250.00 – £500.00.

The company was known as ‘Derby Porcelain’ until 1773.  King George III granted Duesbury permission to incorporate the royal crown into the Derby backstamp, after which the company was known as ‘Crown Derby’.

Lot 452 – Royal Crown Derby Litherland two handled vase & cover decorated in the Old Imari 1128 design, height 26cm, boxed.  Estimate £500.00 – £1,000.00.

In 1890, Queen Victoria appointed ‘Crown Derby’ to be ‘Manufacturers of porcelain to Her Majesty’ and by royal warrant granted them the title “The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company”. 

The distinctive 1128 Old Imari pattern dates back to 1882.   Inspired by traditional designs imported from Japan and China to Europe in the early decades of the 18th Century.  Manufacturers throughout Europe started creating stunning porcelain pieces inspired by these wonderful wares in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century.  The Derby porcelain factory established itself firmly within the Imari wares market by creating a wide assortment of designs that were inspired by the original eastern designs with interesting names such as ‘Witches’, ‘Grecian’ and ‘Duck’.  The distinguished rich colours and gold gild were used to show peoples wealth and luxury in the early 18th Century. 

Crown Derby Imari plate, 19th Century

S Pearson & Son acquired the company in 1964 where it became part of the Allied English Potteries group.  In 2000 Hugh Gibson (former director of Royal Doulton) and a Pearson family member bought Royal Crown Derby, making them an independent company again. The company is now owned by Kevin Oakes (former chief executive of both Royal Doulton and Steelite).

Present product lines include paperweights, which were introduced in 1981 were and immensely popular. Royal Crown Derby also continue to produce patterns in the Imari style, distinguished for its rich colours and intricate gilding, including the dinnerware ranges Old Imari, Traditional Imari, Red Aves, Blue Mikado (designed by Thomas Amos Reed), and Olde Avesbury.

Lot 442 – Royal Crown Derby paperweight model of a Bald Eagle with gold stopper, boxed.  Estimate £50.00 – £100.00

Lot 477 – Royal Crown Derby paperweights Red Bow Tie Bear and Collectors Guild bear, both with gold stopper & boxed. (2)  Estimate £40.00 – £80.00.

We have a large collection of Royal Crown Derby in the July 14th Antiques, Rare Pottery & Fine Art Auction.  Our catalogue for the July 14th Fine Art Sale is now available online.

Take a look at some of the Royal Crown Derby pieces we’ve had at auction here in our saleroom in Staffordshire.   If you have any Royal Crown Derby you would like to sell, please contact us, telephone 01782 638100, as we are currently taking entries for the November 10th Fine Art Sale.