I am a frequent seller of Royal Doulton on Ebay and consider myself no complete expert, but I do like to pigeon hole myself as honest and amongst a majority of decent Ebayers. It has recently struck me that a lot of newcomers to the wonderful world of online collecting may be falling foul to a minority who are not so honest.
I am both alarmed and bemused to see that some sellers of Royal Doulton have tried to disguise the fact that they are selling a seconds quality piece. Of course you have to give the benefit of doubt in case it is a genuine lack of knowledge on a sellers part. A lot of reputable sellers will state seconds quality clearly in their listing too. In all fairness, a lot of Doulton pieces that have been classed as second quality by the factory are still extremely good quality and worth buying with indetectable faults, but some have obvious faults and may have been borderline skip fodder!
It's quite simple to detect a seconds quality piece:
Find the Royal Doulton logo which is invariably on the underside and look at its centre. A first quality piece will have four unblemished capital letter "D"'s back to back at each compass point. A second quality piece however, will have the centre of the Doulton logo drilled out thus disfiguring the four "D"'s. On a drilled logo, it may sometimes not be so obvious depending on the individual who did the actual drilling, but close inspection will leave you in no doubt. The two example pictures below demonstrate the differences. The second picture has been edited by me to represent the drilling because I do not own an actual second quality piece.
I have seen descriptions that state "In mint condition apart from an unfortunate little chip on the Royal Doulton mark" and "Unfortunately, this piece has suffered a little disfiguration to the underside near the markings". The worst in my opinion was a description that simply said "Base marked as in pictures". All of these items happened to show the underside of the pieces in question, and all were actual seconds! The latter description was very deceiving because the seller was indirectly declaring their piece as a second. For someone not in the know, the drilling could have been misconstrued as just a poor quality image.
If you cannot see the Doulton markings on a piece in a listing, and you have any reason to doubt, then ask the seller to send you a picture of the underside clearly showing markings. The vast majority of sellers will be more than willing to help and happy to impart knowledge on you as a potential customer now and in the future. It is far easier and better to take the trouble to check before you buy than to try and argue the point afterwards. If you do not receive any pictures or at least a statement of quality then I would advise on the following school of thought:
When in doubt - Leave it out!
One other point to remember is that on a rare occasion, I have seen Royal Doulton pieces with a cross scratched through the centre of the logo. I can find no reference to this method anywhere, so it may not be directly a result of Royal Doultons actions, but worthy of noting.
I hope that this little gem of information has helped or will help you to make an informed decision about buying your next piece, and if it has, please vote accordingly!