Carlton Ware

Carlton Ware - Click here to visit our extensive selection of Vintage Carlton Ware

History & Reference Information

English Ceramic,
Period 1890 - 1992
Manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.

Carlton Ware was actually the trading name of the firm Wiltshaw & Robinson.

James Wiltshaw had the potteries in his blood, his father worked for the prestigious Macintyre firm where incidentally William Moorcroft also "cut-his-teeth", James joined his father at Macintyre's and worked his way up to manager before branching out with Messrs. J.A & H.T Robinson on their own.

Wiltshaw and the Robinsons formed their partnership about 1890, and the first mark used on their wares refers solely to the partnership of W&R.

It was not until fours years later after registering the trade name that the first Carlton Ware mark was used.

In 1906 china wares were added to the factory output, to reflect this a Carlton China mark was introduced. The partnership was dissolved in 1911.

In 1918 when Wiltshaw died of injuries sustained from a train accident, his son, Frederick, took over the reins and infused new vigor into the business.

Early in the 1920's, Lustre wares were introduced, technical excellence and stringent quality control meant that Carlton Ware lead the field, and introduced themes, such as Egyptian/Byzantine/Persian, relevant to the breaking news of the day with archaeological discoveries such as Tukenkamens tomb and the Aztec ruins.

Later Art Deco themes and shapes contemporary with other designers were developed to keep Carlton Ware at the forefront of the industry.

To cater to a wider market, novelty wares were introduced in the mid to late 1920's, the first of which were Salad Wares with Lettuce (Tomato), soon followed by the Floral Embossed range with Oak Tree and Garden Wall leading the way.

The Salad and Floral Embossed wares were to form the back-bone of the company for the next 50 years.

This change was also reflected the introduction of the first scripted Carlton Ware backstamp in 1925.

With success brings imitation, and Carlton Ware were having problems with other firms, especially those overseas, copying their designs. In order to protect these vital overseas markets, and in particular those of Australia and New Zealand, design patents/copyright protection was applied for at the Australian Patents Office.

The design registration application backstamp (1935-61) was added to warn others off.

This also clears up one of the most common misconceptions about this backstamp, which is that the designs were done by Australians, this is not so.

Although there are some designs, Gumnut, for instance, that were directly aimed at the Australian market, all design work was carried out in England.

Subsequent to the Second World War, the patent was granted, and the backstamp was changed to reflect this as Registered Australian Design. (1950?-61)

It seems relevant at this point to mention a word of caution about dating, (and not the Saturday Night type either), all dating is indicative, that is to say, they did not stop using mark at 5pm 30/6/1925, and started a new one next day, some marks have been used throughout. It is therefore useful when trying to attribute some sort of date to also take into account when a pattern was introduced, and also the shape number that appear embossed on many of the pieces, and where it fits in the sequence of events.

Post War the factory undertook a number of expansion programmes and beginning in the 1950's revamped their designs, once again reflecting the mood of the day with simpler styles such as Twin-Tone and Windswept, and in the 1960's with the new Space-Age, leading to designs like Orbit.

Also contemporary with the times was the swallowing up of companies by conglomerates, Carlton Ware did not escape and was taken over by Arthur Woods in 1967, new directives placed Carlton Ware's market firmly overseas and trade expanded to over 75% of the factory output. During this period Fruit and Walking Ware were produced.

Swamping of the Australian and New Zealand markets by the now highly organised Japanese firms, and Britain joining the EC resulted in the abandonment of old Commonwealth ties and subsequent loss of traditional markets for Carlton Ware, then finally a recession in the early 1980's were successive blows that the firm could not recover from, and despite several rescue attempts, Carlton Ware finally ceased in 1992.

It must be added as a note of caution that the moulds were not destroyed, and with the resurgence of interest in the firm copies of Carlton Ware are now appearing on the market, especially in Britain. Collectors must be vigilant, and buy from reputable sources in order not to be taken in by these excellent quality replicas.

Carlton Ware - Click here to visit our extensive selection of Vintage Carlton Ware

Reference: Collecting Carlton Ware, by Francis Joseph, Collecting Carlton Ware, by David Serpell

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