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Mr. Cuthbert Bailey was the general manager of Royal Doulton in 1930s. Knowing his daughter’s passion for drawing and art, he asked his daughter to create child friendly design for a nursery series that Royal Doulton was planning.
His daughter Barbara, created drawings of bunnies in every family setting. They were said to be inspired from her fondness of her childhood, the designs comprised of rabbits eating, picnicking, playing, fishing, dancing, reading and cooking basically just enjoying everyday life. The father rabbit was shown as bespectacled and smoking a pipe which is said to be based on her own father. When the Bunnykins line was introduced by Royal Doulton in 1934 it was an instant success, the rabbits were dressed in human clothes in colourful and rural English scenes.
The first and earliest pieces were signed by Barbara and are quite rare and highly expensive. The Bunnykins china was used by Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth as children, and they were popular Christmas, birthday and christening gifts in middle class English homes.
Figurines based on the Bunnykins characters were created by Charles Noke in 1939. The production was halted because of the war and didn’t resume till after Royal Douton purchased the Beswick factory in 1969. Prior to the war, six designs were produced and have become a rare and expensive find. The Bunnykins designs have been picked up for continuation by various designers who have stayed true to Barbara’s original design.
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