After a short period at Minton's as a boy, Robert Allen worked for Doultons at Burslem as a designer from 1870 to 1929, starting there when it was still Pinder Bourne & Co at the Nile Street Works, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Items designed and decorated by Robert Allen and his team of artists are marked with 'RA' numbers. These comprise the standard Doulton mark plus a pattern or design number. Robert Allen's design studio produced many patterns for Doulton.
Doulton plate designed by Robert Allen and decorated by Fred Hancock
He became head of department and lead a team of artists and craftsmen turning out the most expensive types of fine china. Items signed by him are rare, but items made under his direction with ‘RA’ and a number are much more common. It seems that Robert Allen was allowed to sign some works on the side as well as monogrammed on the base. The RA numbering system carried on being used 10 years after Robert Allen retired from Doultons but were reset to '1' in 1924. They were sequenced chronologically thus: 1-3500 (1882-1889), 3500-6000 (1900-1904), 600-7400 (1904-1909), 7400-8600 (1910-1914), 8600-9600 (1915-1919), 9600-9999 (1920-1923), 1-480 (1924-1929), 480-1450 (1930-1934), 1450-1740 (1935-1939).