Royal Doulton Bibelots first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s and referred to a range of functional fanciful ash trays, ring holders, salt cellars and soap dishes featuring animals, birds, insects and mythical creatures. They were designed by some of Doulton Lambeth leading designers including Leslie Harradine, Harry Simeon and even George Tinworth. They are appealing today and remain some of the most collectable Doulton items. We take a look at a selection of Royal Doulton Bibelots along with their associated prices at auction with a price guide.
The word bibelot is actually derived from the French word bibelot, meaning “bauble” or “trinket.” It first appeared in English in the early 19th century and was used to describe a small, ornamental objects that were popular in the Victorian era. Over time, the meaning of the word broadened to encompass any type of collectible item, regardless of its size or value. They were often made of porcelain or glass, and they were used to decorate homes and often given as gifts.
The word bibelot has fallen out of fashion and we often see a large range of items such trinket boxes, ornaments, jewellery referred to as such. If it’s small and pretty, it can be considered a bibelot. In terms of why Doulton used the word bibelot we can assume it was for the whimsical creatures added to the functional objects. Animals, birds, insects and fantastic beings included: polar bear, dragonfly, kookaburra, kingfisher, pixie, Queen of Spades, Queen of Diamonds, rabbit, owl, koala bear, mouse and faun among others.
A number of bibelots were created in soap dish form for Wright’s Coal Tar Soap. The base of these models reads ‘ Specially designed & manufactured by Royal Doulton Potteries for the Proprietors of Wright’s Coal Tar Soap ‘. The model features a dragonfly resting a by a pool of blue water with a green surround.