Nevertheless, the family links remain -- Michael Doulton direct decendant of John Doulton makes numerous appearances around the world each year, meeting with Royal Doulton consumers, collectors and fans.

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His son, Henry Doulton, established the Lambeth and Burslem Studios to create unique art pottery.

Sir Henry was knighted for his services to the ceramic industry and continuing royal patronage from Queen Victoria and King Edward VII led to the title Royal Doulton in 1901.

ETC offered the excellent translucent quality of bone china, without the expense.

In 1966 Royal Doulton became the first china manufacturer to receive the Queen's Award for Technical Achievement. But it has a 'family' of English brands, having merged with Minton in 1968, and gaining Royal Albert from the merger with AEP in 1971.

Royal Doulton's largest and most expensive figure takes no less than 160 hours to hand paint and costs more than £14,000.

Its collectables have proved so popular that it launched the Royal Doulton International Collectors Club (RDICC) in 1980.

Royal Doulton is not only one of the world's oldest chinaware companies -- it's also one of the most up to date.

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The ideas and inspiration of key individuals like John Slater and Charles J Noke built its reputation in figurines, vases, and decorative pieces. But the Doulton name for fashion and functionality was spreading apace.