Collecting Articles and Features

The Enigmatic Royal Doulton Maori Jug

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Amidst the vast universe of Royal Doulton character jugs lies a gem that evokes mystery, history, and artistic finesse: the Royal Doulton Maori Jug. Despite the world-renowned reputation of Royal Doulton for its diverse collection, the Maori jug stands out due to its scarcity, intricate design, and the story it carries with it.

Royal Doulton Maori Jug
Royal Doulton Maori Jug. This example sold for £16,200 at Bonhams, December 2006.

The Maori character jug was a pilot produced in the years 1938 and 1939, crafted in a large, captivating size. Interestingly, the jug came out in two distinct versions. Though at least six instances of the jug have been documented, it is widely believed that a few might have discreetly made their way to retail outlets, waiting to be discovered.

The jug, model number D6080, was beautifully conceived to represent a native inhabitant of New Zealand and the Polynesian Islands. This representation wasn’t merely an abstraction but carried with it a depth of cultural reverence. It showcased the grinning face, detailed with tribal markings, embodying the essence of the Maori people. The green printed factory mark and the date code for 1939 validate its authenticity and production timeline.

A Tale of Its Creation

Behind this masterful creation stood the gifted hands of Harry Fenton. Having been approved in 1939, it’s a mystery as to why this art piece didn’t see its rightful place in the general range of Royal Doulton jugs. It was introduced to production at Nile Street just as World War Two began to cast its shadow across Europe. But the war’s tremors likely halted its full-scale production, leaving only a handful to make it to retail.

One of the Most Expensive Character Jugs at Auction

As with all things rare and beautiful, the Maori jug has become a cherished treasure among collectors. Few have the privilege of housing it in their private collections, knowing very well its value that runs into tens of thousands of Pounds. To put it into perspective, Bonhams, a famed auction house, sold one for a staggering £16,200 in December 2006 at London’s New Bond Street. A subsequent sale in March 2008 saw another jug fetching £11,500.

The Royal Doulton Maori jug is more than just a ceramic artifact. It’s a confluence of history, culture, and craftsmanship. Each known jug carries with it stories of a bygone era, the artistry of Harry Fenton, and the allure of the unknown reasons behind its limited production. For collectors and enthusiasts alike, it remains an elusive masterpiece, a testament to the ever-evolving world of art and collectibles.

Toby Jugs & Character Jugs

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