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The online catalogue does not include details of all our collections. Contact us for further information on collections not yet featured online.

Stoke-on-Trent Young Archaeologists’ Club

PLEASE NOTE – our membership is fully subscribed, but get in touch if your child would like to be put on our waiting list.

We are looking for Volunteer Assistants to join us in running Stoke-on-Trent YAC. Find out more.

Stoke-on-Trent YAC is open to everyone aged 8–16 years. YAC clubs get involved in all sorts of activities, including visiting and investigating archaeological sites and historic places, trying out traditional crafts, taking part in excavations, and lots more.

Stoke-on-Trent YAC is based at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The club usually meets once a month. It is an affiliated club of the YAC network, and is run by staff and volunteers at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which is run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Membership currently costs £24.00 per year and renews each January.

If you’d like to get involved with Stoke-on-Trent YAC, or find out more about how the club is run, get in touch with the team using the details below:

Contact: Joe Perry (Curator of Local History)
Tel: 01782 232539

You can find out more about Stoke-on-Trent YAC, and other branches, on the YAC website.

“Conjugal Felicity”, a mother’s love, and Mr Fletcher

The phrase ‘Conjugal Felicity’ is not one that is widely used today but its meaning – A Happy Marriage – is still relevant. The engraving on this creamware jug of c.1798 shows an idealised happy marriage with a fashionably-dressed husband and wife surrounded by their three children: a young boy holding his hoop while his younger brother or sister sits on his mother’s knee, and the baby sleeps soundly in its cot. 

The idea of domestic happiness, with both parents taking an active interest in the development of their young children, was greatly influenced by the publications of the French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, who urged mothers to nurse their own children, rather than employing wet-nurses, and to superintend their nursery themselves, rather than relying on servants to do so.

The firm of Thomas Fletcher & Co. was in business from c.1796-1800

The print is signed at the bottom ‘Thos. Fletcher & Co., Shelton’ and was produced by Thomas Fletcher (1762-1802) who had an extensive business decorating pottery in the late 18th century and was described as a ‘pot printer’ when he bought land in Shelton in 1789. In the 1790s he was involved in various short-lived partnerships as a ‘black-printer’, that is printing decoration over the glaze, usually in black from copper plates, as with this jug. Although he was occasionally described as a ‘manufacturer’ he probably bought-in many of the pieces that he decorated as blanks from other pottery firms.

Shortly before Fletcher died in 1802, his collection of over 450 “well-selected copper plates of most approved patterns, some new” were advertised for sale in the Staffordshire Advertiser.

Staffordshire Advertiser 30th August 1800

Despite this advertisement the copper plates weren’t finally disposed of until 1807 when Fletcher’s “House, workhouse, two warehouses, printing and painting shops and other appendages necessary for carrying on the business of Enamelling, Printing, situated near the New Hall manufactory at Shelton” were auctioned. The location of his business was in the upper part of Shelton, in what would now be described as part of the town of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Fletcher was not necessarily an engraver himself, but either employed engravers to work for him or bought designs from independent engravers. Comparatively few of these printed designs were original: with little or no effective copyright protection they were largely adapted from existing prints which were then re-engraved onto sheets of copper, ready for use by pottery printers. Pottery engravers didn’t have to go far to find inspiration as local booksellers and stationers stocked suitable images to use:

Staffordshire Advertiser 8th January 1814

Subjects like this one of a happy family were popular with the potters’ customers, as were idealised images of childhood and courtship, and many of Fletcher’s 450 “well-selected copper plates” would have been of a similarly sentimental nature

Creamware jug printed over the glaze in black by Thomas Fletcher & Co. , Shelton.
Unknown manufacturer, c.1798

Talking Treasures: Hulton Abbey

Settle down with a cuppa and join Curator of Local History Joe Perry for a look at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s major historic sites – Hulton Abbey.

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872

17/10/2020 – 22/08/2021

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872
This exhibition displays images of China taken by the Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921). Born in Edinburgh two years before the invention of the daguerreotype and the birth of photography, Thomson first travelled to Asia in 1862, where he set up a professional photographic studio. Fascinated by local cultures, Thomson returned in 1868 and settled in Hong Kong. Over the next four years he made extensive trips to Guangdong, Fujian, Beijing, China’s north-east and down the great river Yangzi. This exhibition is drawn from his time in these regions and also includes objects from the museum’s decorative arts and ceramic collections. By the time of Thomson’s travels, certain motifs and stories associated with long life had become well-established themes in the arts in China. Several of these themes are represented in the exhibition, including immortals and mythological figures inspired by Buddhism, Daoism and Chinese mythology.

Thomson’s ground-breaking work in China established him as a serious pioneer of photojournalism and one of the most influential photographers of his generation. This exhibition seeks to show the great diversity of the photographs that Thomson took in China. What marked his work as special was the desire to present a faithful account of China and its people. Thomson wanted to show his audience the human aspects of life in China through his extensive record of everyday street scenes – rarely captured by other photographers of that era.

A five minute tour of the exhibition, China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery from 17th October 2020 – 16th May 2021.

This internationally acclaimed touring exhibition of photographic prints made from the original 19th-century glass negatives from the renowned collections at the Wellcome Library, London has been seen by almost a million visitors in 24 cities around the world including Beijing, Hong Kong, Washington DC, Dublin, Stockholm. This 5 minute tour of the exhibition offers an overview of the beautiful and sensitive photography of the 19th-century pioneer Scottish photo-journalist, John Thomson (1837-1921). Thomson’s photographs are complemented by a display of Chinese artefacts selected from the museums’ own collections; these include 18th and 19th-century jade and ivory carvings, embroidered textiles and ceramics.

An introduction to the exhibition, China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 with Arts Curator, Samantha Howard.

Thomson’s photographs capture a rare moment in time and place – the long-lost world of 19th-century Imperial China. Thomson made extensive trips to Guangdong, Fujian, Beijing, China’s north-east and down the great river Yangzi. The exhibition is drawn from Thomson’s travels in these regions. People from all works of life, rarely captured by other photographers of that era, are represented here: the young and the old, from the street sellers and soldiers, to powerful Mandarin bureaucrats and shy brides, pose before backdrops of streets, back yards and gardens, palaces and pagodas.

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 – symbolic themes in ivory and jade objects.

By the time of Thomson’s travels, certain motifs and stories associated with long life had become well-established themes in the arts in China. Several of these themes are represented in the exhibition, including immortals and mythological figures inspired by Buddhism, Daoism and Chinese mythology. Join Arts Curator, Samantha Howard, for a bite-size talk about the representation of Shou Xing, the Daoist God of Longevity.

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 – Chinese ceramics in the exhibition with Ceramics Curator, Miranda Goodby

An introduction to some of the Chinese ceramics from the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s collection displayed in the exhibition, with a brief look at their impact on British pottery makers from the 18th century onwards. The Chinese wares include those made for export to the West as well as some examples made for the Chinese market.

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 – Minton pottery in the exhibition with Ceramics Curator, Miranda Goodby

In the 1870s the Minton factory of Stoke-on-Trent produced a large number of decorative pieces inspired by Chinese metalwork, including cloisonné. This film looks at some of these pieces in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s collection, several of which were made for the International Exhibitions of the period, and some of which were donated to the museum by the Minton firm.

January Sale

Grab yourself a bargain!enjoy 20% savings on Anita Harris and Carole Glover pottery, and 30% off all of our Seasonal Gift items in our online Foyer Shop from January 4th until January 17th. Please call 01782 232323 or email for more information.

PLEASE NOTE – in line with new government guidelines we are currently only able to offer postal orders from the Foyer Shop.

Anita Harris – 20% off all these listed prices

Carole Glover – 20% off all these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

Seasonal Gifts – 30% off all of these listed prices

22. He’ll be coming down the chimney when he comes

The range of ceramic production in Stoke-on-Trent is as broad as anywhere in the world. Over the years it seems the imagination was the only limiting factor to what pottery manufacturers were willing to produce. In particular, teapots have been subjected to all manner of weird and wonderful shapes and decoration. Manufacturers of novelty teapots included Sadler, Price and Kensington and Carlton, the makers of this teapot, moulded in the form of Santa Claus appearing from the top of a chimney.

Santa Claus first slid down the chimney in a 1812 book by Washington Irving. The name Santa Claus is an Americanised version of the abbreviated Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, the 4th-century Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in what is now Turkey. In the most famous tale involving St. Nicholas, the bishop anonymously delivers bags of gold to a poor family, often dropping the gold down the chimney. In 1809, Washington Irving helped spark an interest in St. Nicholas when he featured the saint in his satirical Knickerbocker’s History of New York. In an expanded version of Knickerbocker’s published in 1812, Irving added a reference—the first known—to St. Nicholas “rattl[ing] down the chimney” himself, rather than simply dropping the presents down. However, It was the famous poem, published anonymously in 1823, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”—that popularised the idea of Santa Claus tumbling down the chimney.

Despite the shifts in household heating; moving from open fires to stoves and to central heating Santa Clause’s ability to ensure that presents are left at the homes of each good little boy and girl has remained. Whether through a window or door, with his magic key, no children need worry about the possibility of a Christmas day without presents from Santa Claus. As with most fashions the trends of yesteryear return and the current fashion for an open fire or stove has meant that many homes have reverted back to using their chimneys. This is good news for Santa who once his works on Christmas Eve is done can look forward to a nice cup of tea (from a Stoke-on-Trent teapot, of course).

16. The Indomitable Snowman

As sure as Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve or leftover turkey on Boxing Day, the beloved animation The Snowman will be watched by millions of people all over the UK this festive period.

The book, The Snowman was first published in 1978 by the children’s writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs. The animated film was later released in 1982 and caught the hearts of thousands of children (and adults) around the world. Its signature tune “I’m walking in the Air” stormed the music charts in 1985 when sung by Aled Jones. The success of the book, animation and theme tune have ensured that The Snowman has become as synonymous with Christmas as mince pies.

A whole host of official merchandise has been created in relation to The Snowman over the decades including a number of ceramic figures. Royal Doulton held the licence and were the first ceramic company to produce a range of sculptured figures based on the character in 1985. Manufactured by the John Beswick Studio of Royal Doulton (Royal Doulton took over John Beswick Ltd in 1969) the first range ran for just nine years as did not sell as well as expected. However, the company saw fitting to issue a new range of limited edition figures in 1999 which included “Dancing in the Snow” and “The Journey Ends”.

Another Stoke-on-Trent company, Coalport, acquired the licence to produce ceramic snowman products in 2001. They produced over thirty different figures for general release as well as a number of limited edition pieces. Today the Snowman figurine is again manufactured under the John Beswick name as in 2004 the Beswick name and product design rights were purchased from Royal Doulton and are now part of the Dartington Crystal group of brands.

The Snowman book was first published over 40 years ago, and it is heart-warming to think of all of those children who experienced the book and animation the first time around now sharing that same experience with children of their own. Here’s to many more decades of The Snowman on bookshelves, TVs and mantelpieces everywhere.

DesignLab Nation Schools’ programme

Would your school like to be part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s national schools programme, DesignLab Nation?

DesignLab Nation brings together Secondary schools in partnership with the V&A, regional museums and creative industries to inspire students and support teachers through in-depth design projects.  DesignLab Nation is a fully funded project and we are looking for Secondary Schools in the Stoke-on-Trent area to be involved in Spring term 2021, Summer term 2021, Autumn term 2021 or Spring 2022.

What does it include?

  • An in-depth design project for one KS3 or KS4 Design and Technology or Art and Design class (of approx. 16 students) run over one academic term either in Spring 2021, Summer 2021 or Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022. The project would include 4 full day creative sessions led by social artist Rebecca Davies and museum experts at V&A, London and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Students are asked to respond to a design challenge and work through all stages of a design journey (including finding inspiration, writing a brief, experimentation, evaluation). The design challenge we are setting students in 2021 in Stoke-on-Trentis based around Gender and Identity.  Sessions involve creative thinking, critical thinking and collaborative activities, as well as interactive talks, demonstrations and supportive feedback crits.
  • Engaging access to the collections at V&A and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, either in your school though outreach and creative packs or via trips with social distancing in place.
  • A flexible delivery plan adhering to the health and safety requirements of your school. Currently (Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 ) sessions can be delivered either at The Potteries Museum &  Art Gallery (COVID-19 Secure) or at your school. We would hope to welcome DLN schools to the V&A (COVID-19 Secure) for a day trip as part of projects from Autumn 2021 onwards depending on COVID-19 measures. If this is not possible students will engage with the V&A in an online capacity and via our loans programme. Depending on a school’s requirements, availability and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sessions can either be delivered in person with social distancing in place, or via Creative packs including step by step instruction videos, resources, materials and equipment.
  • All materials, equipment and resources in order complete projects.
  • Where possible and dependent on COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing transport to and from The Potteries Museum &  Art Gallery can be provided. Where possible and dependent on COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing transport to and from the V&A will be provided.
  • An end of project online celebration where students can showcase their designs and celebrate their achievements.
  • An online D&T focused continued professional development (CPD) session for teachers and school staff. 
  • Support from artist and museum staff to help students and teachers to work on the project between workshops.

Leading Artist

This is our third year delivering the DesignLab Nation programme with the V&A London. This year we are excited to be working with social artist Rebecca Davies. Rebecca uses illustration and performance in her work to communicate about social issues. She is experienced in working with communities, and  co-leads on The Portland Inn project which is well renowned in the city for the work it has done in partnership with families living in the area. She lead part of our second year programme on social commentary. Using games, discussion, illustration and print making to develop student’s ideas and designs. She also teaches at Staffordshire University. Find out more about Rebecca’s work here.

Find out more: Information for schools

Contact us:

Previous project examples – Year 2 report

Seasonal Gifts

20% off all these prices from Monday 21st December until Wednesday 23rd December

It’s nearly Christmas and we have a perfect range of gifts and cards for that special someone in your life.

For the ladies we have some great unique jewellery.

For the men we have officially branded Hoard, Harris Tweed and St. Justin cufflinks and tie pins – and earrings for the ladies.

For something simpler choose from a range of delicate necklaces and earrings from Shrieking Violet, all of which include real flowers.

We stock a fine selection of Christmas cards.

And for the kids we’ve got lots of popular character merchandise.

Potteries Calendar £5

It’s the time of year for some new winter wear – so why not treat someone special to something from our beautiful range of items and accessories for ladies, gentlemen and kids.

Stokie and proud.

Indulge yourself this Christmas with these beautiful fine bone china Wedgwood Teas Sets all packaged in these stunning gift boxes.

Pam Peters decorative glassware dishes.

Hedgeberry Glassware

Celtic Lands Pill Boxes by Sea Gems

We also have a range of Christmas cards featuring artwork from the local area and sending seasonal greetings from Stoke-on-Trent.



For the garden

Collectors corner

WWI and WWII replica medals


Themed pin badges

Local Potters

Reflecting the city’s industrial heritage our shop features a wide range of studio pottery created by local artists.

Moorland Pottery

Established in 1960, Moorland Pottery produce brilliantly playful ware that reflects Stoke-on-Trent’s rich culture.

Anita Harris

Anita Harris art pottery is globally renowned and collected across the world. Anita has designed many best-selling ranges over the years for Harrods, Selfridges, Bloomingdales and John Lewis, to name but a few. Anita has designed a fabulous range of Pottery inspired by our collections. Available to purchase in our shop, this beautiful pottery would make a wonderful gift for any collector.

Anita Harris bottle ovens. 3 framed tiles. £125

Carole Glover

Based in Stafford, Carole Glover is one of the best-known UK studio potters specialising in Staffordshire slipware.

After graduating at Derby University, she pursued her love of pots and gained experience by assisting wood-firing potters in Devon, going on to set up her own studio in Stafford.

Heavily influenced by 19th century Devonshire & 16/17th century Staffordshire slipware potters, she aims for simplicity of form to enhance her own style of slipware decoration whilst keeping with the colour glazes of the period. Textile jewelling added with the wood firing makes her range of pots exquisite, beautiful and extremely popular amongst collectors.

Black Star Ceramics

Established in Crewe in 2016, and opening a brand-new studio at Baldwin’s Gate in 2018, Black Star Ceramics specialise in hand made ceramics using traditional techniques such as slip casting and throwing, producing single piece one-off items, multi piece collections – and everything in-between.

Founded by a highly experienced former Doulton and Beswick ceramicist, Black Star Ceramics performs the entire end to end process of ceramic making, ensuring that all of the pieces are unique, bespoke and original. 

Black Star Ceramics supports local business and sources all its materials and tools from Stoke-on-Trent.

KAH Ceramics


Charming boxed tea sets, cups and saucers from the iconic pottery manufacturer.

Scruffy Little Herbert

Scruffy Little Herbert products are carefully designed by Staffordshire based Artist, Illustrator and mum of two Esme Talbot (aka Scruffy). Scruffy specialises in making you smile with modern design.

Esme finds her inspiration in local heritage and brings the things we love from the past into the present, whilst delivering messages to continue traditions into the next generation.

Esme has designed an exclusive range of goods for us here at the museum, including the Spitfire mug in a traditional willow style, tea towels, magnets and postcards – all using iconic images that represent Stoke-on-Trent, including Bottle Kilns, Oatcakes and our very own Spitfire.

Scruffy Little Herbert Spitfire mug. £15