Under the Spell of the Collectible Figurine.
John Bromley and his early years at Royal Doulton.
If you love collectible figurines, you will almost certainly know the name of John Bromley. I cannot think of anyone who has spent more time devoted to the art of fine bone china figurine sculpting than him. In February 2010, it will be the 50th anniversary of the day that he first walked into the studio at the world famous headquarters of Royal Doulton, in Nile Street, Burslem.
John remembers clearly the day that he had an interview with the design director of Royal Doulton, Joe Ledger. ‘It was my old head of art school in Burslem, Norman Marlow, that realized that that I had gone as far as I could at college and he managed to get me an interview down the road at Doultons. It was quite intimidating for me as a raw 17 year old to meet the big design director of one of the most famous potteries in the world – but Joe and I seemed to get on straight away and I think that he saw that I had a passion for figurative sculpting.”
John did not realize it at the time but he was being lined up to become the head of a group of highly talented sculptors that would become the Royal Doulton Design Studio. ‘When I first started, I was like one pea in a great pod. The studio was really large and I was the only one there, sat in the corner just getting on with it. I guess you could say that I was self-taught.’
Peggy Davis was the most famous sculptor of collectible figurines for Royal Doulton at the time but she worked from home. John was allowed visit her on Fridays and took the opportunity to see how the great sculptor worked. ‘I’m not sure how much Peggy welcomed my visits, though. I was possibly just a disruption to her flow of work. She seemed to position herself so that I could not get a good look what she was doing and I didn’t really like to be seen as a burden.’
Here is a photo of "Stepping Stones" The first figurine ever produced of John Bromley's work by Royal Doulton. It never actually went into production!
As you can imagine, John always will have a special place in his heart for his first ever figurine to be produced at Royal Doulton. Called ‘Stepping Stones,’ it featured a young girl, holding her little brother's arm, crossing a stream. The amazing thing here is that the figurine was made but did not actually go into production. The few ultra rare examples that might still be around must be some of the most valuable collectible figurines you could hope to find.
History, of course, shows that John went on to produce some memorable designs that Royal Doulton did actually make into collectible figurines. He also sculpted some pieces that collectors might not associate with him. One such piece was a moneybox made as part of the ‘Bunnykins’ range. Even here, there were two versions produced with just one making it into production. Again, there are probably one or two very valuable and rare examples of this non-production piece out there, so keep looking!
After 11 distinguished years, John moved from Royal Doulton to Crown Staffordshire. The managing director of ‘Crown Staffs,’ as it was known, had obviously recognized the important talent that he possessed and John went on to found their studio for collectible figurines.
To go to The UK Figurine Collective's home Page from this article about the early
collectible figurine designs by John Bromley
"As lovely As You"
the first figurine designed by john Bromley for The Figurine Collective, please follow this link