The backstamps shown below in this column represent a good selection but is not exhaustive.
Compiled by Harvey Pettit 2024
They are roughly in chronological order.
Dates when given are mostlyapproximate.
Types of Carlton Ware Revised & expanded January 2024.
For almost 100 years Wiltshaw & Robinson, the makers of Carlton Ware, produced an extraordinary range of earthenware and china at the Carlton Works in Copeland Street, Stoke-on-Trent.
Here I briefly describe and show most of the main categories, roughly in chronological order.
Some of the earliest Carlton Ware was more utilitarian than decorative, though still attractive. Useful shapes such as teapots, hot water jugs and biscuit barrels were dipped into coloured slip (liquid clay) coating items in a thin layer of clay. By carefully dipping the upper half of the body of a jug, for example, upside down into one coloured slip and then the other way up into a contrasting coloured slip a simple but attractive two tone decoration was achieved as you can see on the right.
Wiltshaw & Robinson, the makers of Carlton Ware, called this type of ware TINTED FAIENCE; tinted referring to the different coloured slips.
Not long after its formation in 1890 or a little before, Wiltshaw & Robinson (W&R) introduced a highly successful range of decorative earthenwares, now called Blush Ware. This name aptly describes the delicate pastel shaded backgrounds to patterns, usually printed and enamelled or sometimes freehand painted.
More unusually, some of the earlier Blush Ware patterns were also used against a plain white ground, so without the shaded and tinted, vellum-like backgrounds. Similarly, blushware patterns were also printed in blue and flow blue against a white ground as shown in the next category.
If you would like to see a range of Blush Ware patterns named by the Pottery then click here.
If you would like to see more detail and examples, then click here.
Wiltshaw & Robinson (W&R) was one of the first of many potteries to follow W H Goss's lead in the production of Heraldic Souvenir China emblazoned with heraldic crests. W&R introduced their models around 1903.
Production of this fascinating range of miniatures continued well into the 1920s. Initially, W&R based its models on ancient artifacts found in museums, but within a short time, offered models of an entertaining and humorous nature.
Suffragettes, modes of transport, latest inventions, seaside themes and popular songs also provided inspiration to the pottery.
The 1914-18 war brought about the introduction of many models of a military nature. To commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the war, during 2014 I published a series of 12 articles on Carlton Heraldic China related to the conflict, the most comprehensive to be published. Click or tap on the image on the right to view.
ARMAND LUSTRE WARE was the first of Carlton Ware's lustre decorations. The range was probably introduced in 1913 or during the early part of World War One. It was devised and introduced by the newly appointed Horace Wain, the first known Art Director at the Carlton Works.
ARMAND'S main characteristic, aside from its lustre finishes, was a stippled or mottled ground. Unusually, the underside of ware was also stippled and lustred. A distinctive circular, gold printed backstamp was often used. At its centre, the ARMAND LUSTRE WARE backstamp portrays flying fish leaping above swirling waters though there are examples which use the standard crown backstamp.
By the end of World War One in 1918, manufacturers of enamels and colours for the pottery industry had developed what are known as commercial lustres in a wide range of colours. Their attractive, iridescent finishes were easy to apply and fire.
Under Enoch Boulton, who succeeded Horace Wain as Art Director, Carlton Ware took advantage of the availability of these commercial lustres. In the early 1920s the pottery introduced its LUSTRINE range, which was offered on a wide range of tablewares, especially coffee sets, which had become fashionable.
BEST WARE was the name given on the Carlton Works for the more highly decorated wares, usually employing elaborate gold printed and enamelled patterns. The highly skilled techniques needed to make them had been established early on with the Blush Ware patterns, the Best Ware of their time.
Often BEST WARE patterns were underglaze painted, as well as using onglaze enamels and lustres, gold printing and raised enamelling. The most popular were the many Chinoiserie patterns such as MIKADO,TEMPLEand the elaborateCHINALAND.
SALAD WARE'S considerable popularity generated the revenue that enabled the extravagances of the elaborate, original and expensive BEST WARE patterns.
All was expertly modelled and hand painted in attractive colours. Today, we divide this wide range into Floral Embossedand Fruit Embossedwares, although at the works it was all known as SALAD WARE primarily because the first of these ranges was the very popularLETTUCE & TOMATO versions of which remained in production for more than fifty years.
The earliest known Carlton WareAdvertising Waredates from about 1900 and took the form of match holders and strikers for companies such as Bryant & May and Burton Ale. From the 1930s onwards John Haig & Sons, distillers, became big customers using ware to advertise their whisky in pubs and hotels with specially modelled ashtrays and water jugs.
Other brewers and distillers took advantage of the skills at Copeland Street, most notably Arthur Guinness, Son & Co., especially with a range or bar ornaments. These were based on animals and the zoo keeper that John Gilroy had created for Guinness advertisments. Alas, Master moulds for these charming figures have ended up in the hands of the unscrupulous and fakes abound. See our Guinness fakes pages to see these and more.
During the post war period many pottery designers looked towards Scandinavia for inspiration and Carlton Ware was no exception.
Fluid and freeform shapes were the order of the day. WINDSWEPT, a large range of tea, coffee and table ware, is a good example. The TRIFORM and SHELF ranges are others employing the fashionable fluid shapes of the time.
Even Salad Ware was given the treatment with ranges such as CONVOLVULOUS, MAGNOLIA and ORCHID, all of which were popular and used new background colours.
Two years after Cuthbert Wiltshaw's death in 1966 Carlton Ware was bought by Arthur Wood & Sons. The printed and enamelled Best Ware patterns that had generated so much prestige for the pottery were discontinued. They were replaced by a much smaller range of less costly slide on lithographic decorations, similar in appearance to their predecessors.
New Salad ware lines were introduced in the form of CANTERBURY, NEW BUTTERCUP, with its variant SOMERSET. The new owners also looked to the past for inspiration with the resulting remodelling of APPLE BLOSSOM, to give us NEW APPLE BLOSSOM, and an uninspiring range of flow blue decorations on traditional shapes.
In 1974 Roger Michell and Danka Napiorkowska, who ran the Yorkshire based Lustre Pottery, approached Carlton Ware to make their designs under license. And so began the manufacture of the charming and amusingWALKING WAREat the Carlton Works. Its enormous success led to the introduction of similar ranges such asRJS(Running, Jumping and Standing still!) andBIG FEET.
The popularity ofWALKING WAREstimulated the introduction of many other amusing ranges by Carlton Ware's in-house designer Pam Souch and a large number of more original and quirky designs entered production.
Disastrously, in 1987 County Potteries, a holding company, bought James Kent and then Carlton Ware. Two years later, the new directors put Carlton and Kent into voluntary liquidation. County Potteries went into compulsory liquidation shortly afterwards.
Eventually, Paul Thompson, one of the directors of Kent, Carlton and County Potteries, was disqualified from running any company. The loss of so many jobs was a tragedy for both Potteries and their many employees, who had dedicated their working lives to James Kent and Carlton Ware.
During County Potteries mismanagement, little new ware was introduced.
The voluntary receivership meant that all Carlton Ware's assets had to be sold and in 1989 John McCluskey, a manufacturer of ceramic door furniture, bought the pattern and shape records, along with the goodwill and master moulds. Most importantly he bought the registered trade mark that Cuthbert Wiltshaw had devised and registered in 1926. Since it is in Cuthbert's hand, it is what we know as and call the Script backstamp.
Mr. McCluskey's aim, initially, was to concentrate on more expensive lines and with an eye to introduce high quality dinnerware. A limited range of ruby lustre ware would be available and all to be made at his industrial unit in nearby Stone.
In 1997 Mr. McCluskey sold the Carlton Ware trade mark to Francis Joseph Salmon. The trade mark is what we call the Script backstamp, which was registered by Cuthbert Wiltshaw in 1926.
Although Mr. Salmon's wares used the trade mark as shown above, much of what he had made by numerous Staffordshire potteries during his ownership of the mark lacked the originality for which Carlton Ware had been known.
For the first ten years or so, designs were very much in pastiche, such as copies of the work of Clarice Cliff and Shelley Potteries from the 1930s as well as reinterpretations of some Carlton Ware patterns from the same era. In addition, when artwork came out of copyright, illustrations from the books of Mabel Lucie Attwell, Florence Upton and Lucy Dawson were used on various items also giving the appearance of being made in the earlier part of the twentieth century.
In 2004, three years after Robertson's dropped the use of an image of a "Golly" as its brand logo, Mr Salmon offered many different models of the controversial caricature marketed through leaflets called The Original Golly Times from "The Original Golliwog Company", which Mr. Salmon had just set up. The figures are controversial because they offend many black people. For this reason, numerous National Newspapers refused to take advertising from Mr. Salmon.
The trade marked/branded ware was made for Mr. Salmon by various Staffordshire potteries. These included Moorland Pottery, Peggy Davis Ceramics and Bairstow Manor Pottery.
In 2011, original designs began to be introduced as a consequence of associations with Anita Harris, Marie & Peter Graves, as well as Lorna Bailey. For some reason, these 'affiliations' were short lived. Mr. Salmon too had a go at designs as did the decorator Lynn Cyples (LC)!