Search Results for: "ceramics" - Page 1 of 3
The online catalogue does not include details of all our collections. Contact us for further information on collections not yet featured online.
The Thomas Twyford Bequest of Ceramics
We are often asked what the stories are behind some of the ceramic pieces in our collections, but few people ask about who generously gave or bequeathed them to the museum. People donate items to us for all sorts of reasons, and most people only give one or two pieces, but we do have some large and important groups of pottery given to us by collectors who, in some cases, had spent years searching out special pieces to acquire.
In the 19th and early 20th century many of our donors were well-known Staffordshire pottery manufacturers, local businessmen, or were simply wealthy collectors. They donated their collections because they wanted other people to enjoy them, as much as they themselves had enjoyed collecting them.
One of the most important ceramics collections at PMAG is the Thomas Twyford Collection of almost 600 pieces of English pottery from the 17th and 18th century, which was bequeathed to the Hanley Museum, precursor of the present-day Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, on his death in 1921.
The Twyford name is known world-wide today as one of the leading manufacturers of sanitary ware, toilets, washbasins, etc., but comparatively few people know about Thomas Twyford (1849-1921), whose energy and business acumen created the largest sanitary ware business in the world – and even fewer know about him as an important collector of 17th and 18th century Staffordshire ceramics.
Thomas Twyford was born in Shelton in 1849. His father was a pottery manufacturer who produced sanitary wares, advertising his firm as making “water-closet basins, plug basins, urinals, etc.”. In 1872 Thomas’s father died and his 23-year old son took over the business.
Under his management the firm expanded rapidly until Twyford’s was the largest sanitary ware producer in the world. Thomas introduced many improved models of water closets which won awards, but in 1884 he introduced and patented the ‘Unitas’ one-piece pedestal closet, which became a best-seller and for which he is best known.
By his 30s Thomas was a wealthy man. He moved to the countryside, commuting into work each day, and in 1887 he built a new model factory at Cliffe Vale, Shelton, chosen because for its good transport links as it lies between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the North Staffordshire. Although production there ceased in the 1990s, the façade of his factory survives to this day with the building converted into apartments.
From the 1890s Twyford and his family lived at Whitmore Hall, Staffordshire, filling it with his collections of pictures, books – and pottery. He was involved in local politics and philanthropy, was a magistrate and became firstly, Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire, and then High Sheriff. From 1896 until his death he was Chairman of the local newspaper, the Staffordshire Evening Sentinel.
The Twyford family had been potters in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, since the 17th century, and so Thomas collected 17th and 18th century pottery, buying the best pieces that he could. These ranged from slipwares, including a number of named and dated pieces, to salt-glazed stonewares, painted creamwares and figures.
Although, sadly, his collection does not include any pieces that that can be attributed to his Twyford ancestors, many of Stoke-on-Trent’s most famous potters are represented in his collection. On his death Thomas donated his collection to what was then Hanley Museum, so that local people could enjoy it as much as he had done.
Vlog: Meet Miranda Goodby, Ceramics Curator
What is your name and job title?
I’m Miranda Goodby and I am the Senior Curator of Ceramics.
What is in the Ceramics Collection and What do you do as a Curator?
Here at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery the Ceramics Collection includes pottery and porcelain from around the world, and it ranges in age from Ancient Egypt through to the present day.
In many museums, ceramics from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome would be included in archaeology or ethnography collections because of their age or country of origin, but here they are included in the Ceramic collection because of their material – clay.
We also have ceramics from the Near & Far East, as well as from Europe, but great majority of our pieces are from England, especially Staffordshire. We have the largest collection of Staffordshire ceramics in the world – approximately 30,000 pieces–and that doesn’t include all the thousands of sherds of excavated pottery from Stoke-on-Trent that are cared for in the Archaeology collection.
There are several reasons that this museum has such an amazing collection of pottery. Firstly, we are based in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of the British pottery industry for over 300 years. Secondly, there have been museums in Stoke-on-Trent collecting pottery for nearly 200 years. You can do a lot of collecting in that time!
Many of the Victorian pottery manufacturers were also collectors of pottery. People such as Thomas Twyford, who owned the largest sanitary ware factory in the world, bequeathed his collection to what was then called Hanley Museum. Thomas Hulme, who is a less well-known manufacturer but who was responsible for the founding of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute, donated his collection during his lifetime. The Minton family of Stoke-upon-Trent gave examples of their “modern” productions – which are now over 150 years old – and so on. And of course, we have been given many, many other gifts and bequests over the years, including the Keiller family’s famous cow cream jug collection.
We continue to collect as well. The Museum has a Collecting Policy to help guide us in what to acquire, and we collect contemporary ceramics as well as historic pieces. After all, those ‘contemporary’ pieces will be historic themselves one day.
As a Curator my job is to care for the collections and to make them accessible for the public. This can be through exhibitions and displays here at PMAG, but we also lend piece to other museums in the UK – and around the world – for special exhibitions. And through social and traditional media we also make them accessible for an even wider audience
Our collections are also used for research. Researchers, writers, artists and students all use the collections for inspiration and education. An important part of my job therefore is to make sure that the information that we have about our pieces is correct and up-to-date, and that all the pieces not currently on display are carefully stored by type, date or manufacturer so that they can easily be located when needed.
How long have you worked at the museum?
I have been Ceramics Curator here at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery for nearly 25 years now!
What’s your favourite thing about working here?
It’s got to be the collection. With over 35,000 pieces in total to look after there is always something new to learn about them. The marvellous thing about working here in Stoke-on-Trent is that you are immersed in the subject. Not only do we have the pottery here, the pieces that people made and decorated, and that other people bought and used, but we also have information about how those things were made.
The archaeology of Stoke-on-Trent is the archaeology of the pottery industry and is primary evidence for how they were made, the technology that was used – and the things that went wrong in making pottery 1, 2, and 3 hundred years ago.
We also have masses of documentary and photographic evidence for the pottery industry, with factory records, pattern books, trade catalogues etc. When you put all those together you can get a real sense of the importance of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent. It wasn’t just about pretty pots, it was about technological innovation, design, marketing, social and economic change, people lives and livelihoods – and pretty pots.
Now for some questions that have been sent in via Facebook.
Carl wants to know which piece of ceramics in the collection needed the most restoration.
Well, we don’t have any conservators or restorers here at the museum and so we try to not accept pottery that is going to need extensive restoration work as it can be quite expensive to have a lot of restoration work done – and over time the work tends to discolour and then has to be redone. We do however, have a number of pieces in the collection that came to us already restored. And a 17th century slipware dish that was given to us in 1944, is probably the most heavily restored piece that we have. It depicts a man smoking a pipe, has the name Thomas Toft on the rim and the inscription ‘Smoke your nose’. It was badly broken and restored before it was given to the museum and the restoration is so extensive that we can’t be sure which elements of the design are original and which are not.
Pat wants to know if we have any Beswick on display as she hasn’t spotted any when visiting.
Yes, we do have some Beswick on display at present – this cruet set with circus horses in the 1950s case and we have more pieces that aren’t currently on show, including some of the animal figures that Beswick is famous for. Although we have over 5,000 pieces on display in the main ceramics gallery we don’t have space to show everything that we have. So our temporary exhibitions are an opportunity for us to bring out pieces that aren’t usually on show.
And finally, Gary want to know what is my favourite museum object
It impossible to say. I’m afraid it changes depending on what I’m working on at the time. I do have some favourites though. The rolled clay figures made in the 1930s by William Ruscoe are incredibly engaging and charming because of their simplicity. The Green Tea teapot, made at William Greatbatch’s factory in the 1770s, is a favourite because we not only have the excavated material from his site, but because whoever did the inscription was almost certainly illiterate – each ‘e’ in ‘Green Tea’ is drawn differently: you would never do that it you could write, And the many tools that we have for making and shaping pottery. Throwers’ and plate makers’ tools are often inscribed with the name and date of their owner, and that is often the only record of their working lives that they have left. When you hold them in your hand you can’t help but wonder who they worked for, what their lives were like and if we have any of their pots here at the museum.
Our ceramic collections include the finest collection of Staffordshire ceramics anywhere in the world, reflecting the City’s heritage as the centre of the English ceramics industry. It also includes the most comprehensive collection of British 20th century studio ceramics. As well as British ceramics, we have significant collections of ceramics from all over the world and ranging from the Neolithic to the present day.
The collection is internationally renowned and includes a large collection of Staffordshire and salt-glazed stonewares. The 18th and 19th centuries are very well represented with collections of the major Staffordshire factories such as Wedgwood, Spode, Minton and less well known factories such as that of William Greatbatch. The museum also has significant collections of figures, including the Elizabeth Marianne Wood Collection of 18th and 19th century figures and the Pugh Collection of Victorian Staffordshire portrait figures.
Our Art Pottery collection is extensive, with masterpieces from Doulton, Bernard Moore, Ruskin, Pilkington and Bullers, amongst others.
Studio pottery is one of our greatest strengths, with superb collections of the pioneer studio potters Bernard Leach, Hamada Shoji and Michael Cardew amongst others. These collections are complemented by our collections of world ceramics, which include East Asian ceramics, Italian Renaissance maiolica and Islamic pottery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ceramic Information Sheets
The gallery includes a technical section illustrating the production techniques of pottery and also includes more unusual collections, such as the Keiller collection of 667 cow creamer jugs and the Marjorie Davies collection of nearly 300 frog mugs.
Frank Scott Collection of Rolled Pipe Clay Figures.
In 2016 The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s ceramics department acquired their very own wine butler, shepherd, gardener, conjuror, two strongmen and a drunk! These welcomed additions to the department are of course rolled clay figures and not a new intake of staff members. To be exact the museum was fortunate enough to acquire the Frank Scott Collection of 26 rolled pipe clay figures made by William Ruscoe and students of the Burslem School of Art (BSA) during the 1930s.
William Ruscoe was born at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England on June 20th 1904, the son of William Ruscoe, potter. After studying art at Stoke-on-Trent under Gordon M. Forsyth he worked as an assistant at the BSA (1938–1942), serving as tutor in the practical side of pottery at the Royal College of Art, London (1939–1940). He then became master-in-charge at Stoke School of Art (1942–1944). He married and moved to Devon in 1944, where he took up a post as assistant master under William Green, A.R.C.A. at the Exeter School of Art to teach drawing and painting and to set up the Ceramics Department. He worked at the college for twenty-five years until his retirement in 1969. He died at Exeter on September 11th, 1990.
Inspired by salt-glazed stoneware pew groups of the eighteenth century, he brought the art of making rolled clay figures to a new level of skill and subtlety. Using both earthenware and porcelain William Ruscoe and other student at the BSA created a wonderful assortment of figures that are naive in design and considerable in their appeal. The rolled clay figures were exhibited at a number of large exhibitions both nationally and internationally highlighting the fact that the figures were appreciated as the work of skilled potters despite their often amusing appearance.
William Ruscoe’s talents extended well beyond rolled clay figures including the creation of many pieces of studio pottery. He was especially interest in glazing techniques, a topic on which he published a book titled Glazes for the Potter in 1974 and which led to the creation of some wonderful and colourful finishes to his pottery.
The collection of figures was gifted to the museum by the niece of Mr Frank Scott. Frank Scott was a potter who trained at the Burslem School of Art during the 1930s and worked alongside William Ruscoe. Scott’s and Ruscoe’s association continued until the outbreak of WWII when Frank joined the army and Ruscoe moved to Devon. Frank Scott was himself an accomplished potter and was offered the opportunity to work as a designer at Royal Worcester, an offer he declined as he wished to remain in Newcastle-under-Lyme. After WWII Mr Scott chose to leave the pottery industry and instead pursued a career in sales. The collection of rolled clay figures were no doubt a wonderful reminder of Mr Scott’s time as at the Burslem School of Art.
At the outbreak of war in September 1939 pottery production was being scaled back. Many pottery workers were being called up into the forces, or had volunteered, while others left to do war work at the local munition factories and engineering works. While export orders declined rapidly, the British government was placing large orders to supply its civilian and military canteens. These were usually stamped with the date of production and ‘GR VI’ to show that they were government property.
In 1942 official Utility restrictions were placed on what the pottery industry could make for the home market, including a complete ban on decorated ware, but until then factories were able to accept orders, and a small number produced some patriotic designs, usually only made in small numbers.
Among the pieces at PMAG we have a nightlight from the Stoke-upon-Trent firm of Shorter & Son. Made in cream earthenware in the form of a corrugated iron Anderson Shelter it has the letters A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) in the roof. In a period when many homes still did not have gas or electrical light, candle night lights were common, particularly in bedrooms. A tealight would have been placed inside the Anderson shelter and the light would have been filtered through the letters. At such a time of uncertainty there is an irony that a nightlight, intended to reassure, should have been produced in a shape associated with air raids.
The Preston firm of Dyson & Horsfall were a mail order firm that ran a very successful national Christmas Club scheme. In a period before the internet, local organisers would deliver the mail-order catalogues, take and forward the customers’ orders, and then collect the purchase money, in weekly instalments. The company gave presents to its successful local agents, usually a chrome-plated teapot but in 1940 Dyson & Horsfall commissioned the Tunstall firm of AG Richardson to produce this teapot for its organisers.
Printed and painted with the flags of the Allies it has, to one side ,“Liberty and Freedom”, and to the other “War against Hitlerism. This souvenir Teapot was made for Dyson & Horsfall of Preston to replace ALUMINIUM STOCKS taken over for ALLIED ARMAMENTS 1939. That Right Shall Prevail”
Despite the reference to 1939 in the inscription this piece was almost certainly made for distribution at Christmas 1940. The inscription refers to “France Western Colonies” and “France Eastern Colonies” but not to mainland France, which had fallen to the Germans in June 1940.
In August 1939, in advance of the declaration of war, the London Clearing Banks moved their cheque-clearing operations to Trentham Hall, with most of its staff based in the Ballroom.
Hundreds of bank staff were billeted with local families in and around Trentham, and many local people were recruited to work alongside them. The London staff, far from their homes and families, referred to themselves as “The Outcasts” and even started a staff magazine “The Outcasts Observer”.
In August 1940, to mark the first anniversary of the evacuation from London, these mugs were commissioned from the firm of T Lawrence, Longton, and were presented to staff by the Controller of the Central Clearing House, Percy S. Quick.
In 1941 the staff were given a commemorative Outcasts ashtray made by Crown Devon, Stoke, – but by 1942 the Utility restrictions on the production of decorative pottery meant that another commemorative piece could not be commissioned. Although we have a couple of Outcasts mugs we don’t have an ashtray. So, if you have one in good condition that you would like to donate, please contact us.
The Utility restrictions on what pottery could be made for the home market were gradually lifted after 1945, but the emphasis was on winning back export orders, and it was not until 1952 that production for the domestic market was back to normal. Consequently we do not have any ceramics made in 1945 to commemorate the end of the war – although many have been produced over subsequent decades to mark the significant anniversaries
The Potteries: The Clue is in the Crest.
Stoke-on-Trent is known far and wide as the ceramics capital of the world earning itself the title of ‘The Potteries’. To this day the name remains in use despite the huge changes in both the economy and landscape of the six towns that make up the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
Few obvious signs of the locality’s celebrated industrial past remain, although, there are plenty of clues around the place that hint at the intrinsic importance of the ceramics industry as part of the city’s past.
One glorious example is that of the City of Stoke-on-Trent’s coat of arms.
As with most coat of arms the design and imagery includes features synonymous with the family, organisation, profession, or locality they represent. In 1912 the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent was granted its coat of arms. Two years prior Stoke-on-Trent had been constituted as a County Borough on the Federation of six former local authorities: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. The country borough was elevated to the status of city in 1925 and has kept the same coat of arms to this day.
Before the Federation of the six town in 1910 each of the towns existed as proudly independent authorities, each with their own crest. These crests represented the unique heritage of each of the towns, including important families, local dignitaries, and local industry. The central arms of the new County Borough looked to incorporate aspects from all six towns.
Starting at the top, the Stafford knot emblem is taken from the Tunstall arms. Tunstall are the only town to have adopted the knot which has been a widely used symbol throughout the county of Staffordshire for centuries. Additional imagery on the Tunstall arms is a clear nod to its pottery industry with three vases and two bottle ovens.
In between the two knots is a boars head taken from the Stoke-upon-Trent arms. The boars head is present on one of the three coats of arms that make up the right-hand side of the arms. The boars head is part of the Copeland family arms whilst the other two arms are that of the Keary and Minton families. The inclusion of the Copeland family arms, as part of the Stoke-upon-Trent arms, is not surprising and neither is that of the Minton arms; both of which represent the two most well-known and successful pottery companies in the town. The Keary arms relate to William Keary who, in 1874, became the first mayor of the newly incorporated Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent. As with the Tunstall arms, imagery relating to the towns main industry is on show with the inclusion of ceramic jugs, a bottle oven, and potters wheel.
Working clockwise, around the central shield section of the City’s arms, we start with the image of a camel. A peculiar image to be found on the arms of a city located in the middle of England; the camel is taken from the Hanley arms. The camel appears as the helm on the Hanley arms and is taken from the Ridgway family’s arms. The inclusion of the Ridgway insignia was perhaps an easy decision when it came to incorporating an aspect of the Hanley arms. The Ridgway family were the largest and most successful pottery dynasty across the Hanley and Shelton area throughout the 19th century. Furthermore, William Ridgway became the first Mayor after Hanley and Shelton were incorporated, becoming the Borough of Hanley in 1857. Again, the additional of jugs and bottle ovens allude to Hanley’s main industry.
Under the camel is the image of a scythe. Both the arms of Tunstall and Burslem contain the image of the scythe, and both for the same reason. The scythe is taken from the coat of arms of the Sneyd family. Landed gentry for over 500 years the Sneyd family owned large tracts of land in both the Burslem and Tunstall areas. The Sneyd family’s land was mined for both clay and coal and rented by generations of potting families.
Next is the image of an eagle, taken from the Longton arms. As with the camel of the Ridgway family the eagle is often present as the helm atop the Longton arms and relates to James Glover. In 1865 Longton and Lane End were incorporated as the borough of Longton and it was successful local mine and brewery owner, James Glover who became its first Mayor. Flanking the Longton arms are figures of a potter and a miner, representing the two main industries of the area.
Above the eagle is an image of, arguably, the most iconic piece of pottery to have ever come out of Stoke-on-Trent. The image of the Portland Vase is taken from the Burslem arms and is a reference to Burslem’s most famous son: Josiah Wedgwood. Burslem became a borough in 1871 and in 1878 was granted a Charter of Incorporation and the right to display arms. Interestingly, the other five towns had and displayed ‘unofficial’ arms but only Burslem (as the ‘Mother’ town) received a grant.
Lastly, dividing the four images within the central aspect of the Stoke-on-Trent arms is a Fretty Cross. Taken from the most often forgotten of the six towns, Fenton, the cross appears on its arms dividing it into four quarters. As with Tunstall, Hanley, and Stoke, the pottery industry is represented by a vase and bottle ovens. Additionally, the coal industry is represented by a pit-head wheel whilst a sheaf of corn in front of a plough signifies agriculture. The Fenton arms have a goat’s head as the helm which is taken from the arms of William Baker, the Chief Bailiff of Fenton in 1840 and a successful local pottery manufacturer.
Sitting atop of the Stoke-on-Trent coat of arms is the image of an Egyptian Potter at his throwing wheel; a symbol of the rich and important heritage of pottery making.
Back in 1912 the design of the county borough’s arms offered an opportunity to create new symbolism representing the areas new shared identity. I hope this closer study of the arms has provided a fascinating insight into the county borough’s bold new vision for itself as it moved into the 20th century. The new coat of arms was a symbolic bringing together of the six towns; a chance to reflection on what each of them had achieved in the past and the beginning of a future in which ‘United Strength is Stronger’.
Bonjour! My name is Pierre, Pierre Peacock. I am also known as the Minton Peacock because I was made at the Minton pottery factory. I have a French name because the man who created me was from France. He was very talented, don’t you think? Look at the beautiful, bright colours in my feathers. The pattern in my tail looks like lots of big eyes to scare away predators. There is also a peacock butterfly who uses the same pattern on their wings.
I am a life-sized peacock and stand very tall so I get a good bird’s eye view around the Ceramics Gallery. From up here, I can keep my eyes on the Minton Monkey. He can be rather cheeky and likes to swing from the ceiling and hide from his friends. Have you ever spotted him hiding in the gallery?
I’d better fly now. It’s almost time for The Bunnykins Oompah Band rehearsal. I love to listen to their music and strut my stuff. Next time you watch our film, strut like a peacock and shake your tail feathers when you see me. Au revoir!
If you haven’t already seen Ozzy and friends in action, check them out below!
Drum Major Bunnykins reporting for duty. My friends call me Bobby. Ozzy has asked me to bounce by to say hello. I am the leader of The Bunnykins Oomph Band – me and the other bunnies/rabbits march around the Ceramics Gallery, playing music for our friends. We only play when there are no visitors around so now is the perfect time for rehearsals. Don’t tell Miranda or Ben who look after us but once I nearly smashed our glass case – I was twirling my baton too high. Ozzy warned me not to get carried away.
Would you like to meet the band? Behind me, is Cynthia on cymbals. She’s been playing music since she was a bunny. She made her first pair of cymbals with two saucepan lids. Next in line is Barry on brass, then Sandra – Cynthia’s twin sister. At the back is Charlie on his big bass drum. Once, he banged his drum so hard that his paw went straight through but the show must go on so he used a cardboard box for the rest of the performance. You could make some musical instruments at home and join in our march when you see us in the film. Well, I’d better hop to it. Time for band practice Are you ready fellas?!
If you haven’t already seen Ozzy and friends in action, check them out below!
You can colour in your own Bobby Bunny by printing the image below;
Figure – Christ on the Cross
The ceramics gallery at the Potteries Museum has over 5,000 pieces on display. Some of them are very flamboyant and impossible to miss. Others are much more unassuming but in many instances, just as intriguing. Among them is this little model of Christ on the cross. Made in white salt-glazed stoneware it is, despite being only 4 ¼ inches high, remarkably detailed. On the front is a simply modelled figure of Christ crucified with his facial features and the nail holes in his hands and feet picked out in brown slip. Above him is a banner with the letters ‘INRI’ representing the Latin inscription ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’. Beneath his feet are a skull and crossed bones, bell and an hourglass. The reverse of this model has 10 roundels, four plain and six moulded with imaginary coats of arms. The date 1732 is incised on the base. As far as we know this piece is unique yet it represents a great deal of work.
The model came to the museum in 1965. It had been passed down through members of the Wood family who had married into the branch of the Wedgwood family that built the Big House, Burslem, and cousins of Josiah Wedgwood. The date of 1732 incised into the base of the model is an early one for white salt-glazed stoneware and puts its production within the period when Aaron Wedgwood (1666-1743) was working with his sons, John and Thomas. Ornamental and overtly religious wares are rare at this period since most of the pottery made was utilitarian kitchen, dairy or table ware. Its survival, in virtually perfect condition is remarkable but it was clearly always treasured.
Today Easter for many people is marked by buying and eating chocolate eggs but a few days after Easter Sunday nothing remains of all that confectionary. By contrast this small model of the crucifixion has survived for almost 300 years.