Frequently Asked Questions

Ceramic Enquiries –Frequently asked question

Our website has a number of information sheets about potters and factories represented in our collections.

Family History:

“I know my ancestor was a potter and lived in Stoke-on-Trent. Can you tell me which factory my ancestor worked for?”

While your research may uncover where your ancestors lived and what their jobs were, discovering where they worked is much more difficult. Very few employment records survive for any of the hundreds of factories that have operated in this area.

For information about researching your family history in Stoke-on-Trent, contact Stoke-on-Trent City Archives Service on 01782 238420 or or http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/archives/home.aspx

Pattern Names

“Can you tell me the name of the pattern on my pottery? It only has the factory mark and some numbers written on the base.”

If your piece doesn’t have a pattern name on it, it is very possible that your design didn’t have a pattern name. Not every pattern did – mostly they were just given a number. Large firms operating over a long period could produce hundreds of thousands of patterns during their lifetime. These were usually given a reference (pattern) number, which is sometimes written on the back of the piece. Popular designs might be given a pattern name and, if the design was a printed one, the pattern name might be applied to the back of the piece. However the majority of patterns were unnamed.

An additional problem is that very few factory pattern books survive. The majority of existing pattern books are held by The Wedgwood Museum, both for the Wedgwood factory and the numerous firms that they have acquired. They can be contacted at

Stoke-on-Trent City Archives holds many pattern books: The Minton Archive, including records relating to Royal Doulton and its many subsidiaries,  were purchased by The Art Fund and generously donated to Stoke-on-Trent City Council in April 2015. This Archive includes the records relating to: Shelley, Adderley, Booths, Colclough China, Paragon China, Beswick, TC Wild (Royal Albert), WH Goss as well as Minton and Royal Doulton.

Please contact Stoke Archives on 01782 238420 or for details of access to these factory records. The Archive reading room is open Wed 10-6 and Thurs-Sat 10-2

In addition, The MInton factory archive has a dedicated website: themintonarchive.org.uk  

Replacement and Matching Pieces

“I want to replace a broken piece of pottery. Can you help me?”

There are many companies offering matching or replacement services which have websites. Others advertise in the small ads in the back of collectibles, antiques or home interiors magazines. Such companies tend to specialise in late 20th century companies and their patterns.

For earlier wares you may find that some of the collectibles websites or those of specialist collectors groups may be able to help.

Valuations

We are not able to give valuations for any purpose, nor are we able to recommend valuers. You should contact a professional auction house or antique dealer in your area for advice.