Why are Royal Doulton Prototypes So Valuable?

Beswick Royal Doulton Prototype Dunn Belted Galloway cow

This Beswick Royal Doulton Prototype Dunn Belted Galloway cow was estimated to sell for just £60-£120, but ultimately found a hammer price of an amazing £660 after avid Royal Doulton collectors were eager to snap it up.

During the height of 20th-century pottery production, every ceramic manufacturer would create prototypes during production, however Royal Doulton prototypes are some of the most popular items out there. Their extremely collectable nature means that Royal Doulton prototype pieces often command high prices at auction, as determined collectors compete for these rarities to add to their collections.

In pottery terms, prototypes were the first concept models that come from the kiln and would then be decorated prior to mass production. At this stage, usually 4/6 pieces would be made. A meeting would then take place with the modeller and the concept managers at the factories to determine if the modelling and paintings were acceptable and, if all is well, the model would be agreed and singed off for mass production.

However, there was a possibility that the prototype modelling or painting would need changing, so the original prototype piece then becomes rare or even unique. Changes of modelling might take place either because the finished piece would be prone to too much breakage, or because of problems with the manufacturing process that may result in firing cracks or problems with the mould etc. In some cases, the concept of an item’s design may be cancelled because of copyright issues, or that the customers or the board decided not to go ahead with the model. This is what makes prototype figures so rare and highly sought after by keen pottery collectors.

Here are some wonderful examples of Royal Doulton prototypes that we have sold over the years at Potteries Auctions.

Royal Doulton Prototype Bunnykins tableau titled Celebration Time

This special Royal Doulton Prototype Bunnykins tableau titled Celebration Time passed through our Silverdale saleroom as part of our July 2022 Fine Art Sale, and sold for a staggering £35,500! It's certainly the highest value item we've ever sold here at Potteries Auctions, and potentially a world record for a Bunnykins figure being sold at auction (don’t quote us on that just yet, however!).

Royal Doulton prototype Mrs Bunnykins figure

This adorable Royal Doulton prototype Mrs Bunnykins figure really captured the hearts of many at a recent Fine Art sale and ended up fetching a hammer price of £8600!

Check out our blog ”Which Royal Doulton Bunnykins are Popular at Auction?” for other Bunnykins figures that have also fetched a good price at auction with us.

large Royal Doulton prototype Marilyn Monroe character jug

This large Royal Doulton prototype Marilyn Monroe character jug sold for a stunning £3,100.

large, rare Royal Doulton prototype The Wizard character jug

This large, rare Royal Doulton prototype The Wizard character jug was modelled in the 1980s by William K Harper and found a new home for a very respectable £3,300.

Royal Doulton prototype Elvis Presley character jug

This Royal Doulton prototype Elvis Presley character jug sold for £3,400.

large prototype Royal Doulton character jug of Winston Churchill

We often find in our auctions that Royal Doulton jugs depicting celebrities or famous people in history prove very popular. This large prototype character jug of Winston Churchill was no exception, selling for £3,400.

Royal Doulton early prototype figure titled The Cobbler

This Royal Doulton early prototype figure titled The Cobbler, modelled by Charles Noke, sold for an amazing £3,000.

Royal Doulton prototype figure titled The Mask

This spooky Royal Doulton prototype figure titled The Mask found a hammer price of £900.

Royal Doulton prototype figure of a country gentleman

Designed by Leslie Harradine c1930s, this Royal Doulton prototype figure of a country gentleman found a sale price of £1,200.

Beswick Royal Doulton prototype figure of a Foxy Whiskered Gentleman

This Beswick Royal Doulton prototype figure of a Foxy Whiskered Gentleman sold for £500.

Royal Doulton prototype Beatrix Potter Mr McGregor figure

This Royal Doulton prototype Beatrix Potter Mr McGregor figure had a sales estimate of just £40-£80, but it proved popular in our saleroom and ultimately sold for £360.

Beswick Royal Doulton prototype Beatrix Potter tableau figure titled Hiding from the Cat

This charming Beswick Royal Doulton prototype Beatrix Potter tableau figure titled Hiding from the Cat found a hammer price of £1550.

How to Sell Royal Doulton Prototypes at Auction

If you have Royal Doulton prototypes or other Royal Doulton pottery pieces you’re looking to find a new home for, or you’re simply looking to discover their worth, get in touch and we can help you with a valuation. Talk to our team of experts who will be able to give you an accurate auction estimate on a range of items. You can join us at one of our valuation days, email us for an appointment [email protected] or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. 

Email Valuations

If you can't come in and see us in person but would like to submit items for auction or valuation, send us an email to [email protected] with details and a photograph (eg make, model, model number, measurements, condition) and one of our experts will provide information and auction estimates. Alternatively, give us a call on 01782 638100 to arrange an appointment.

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