Thomas Minton 1765-1836
Thomas Minton founded his factory in around 1796 in Stoke-upon-Trent.
He was famous for Minton ware - a cream-coloured and blue-printed earthenware majolica, bone china, and Parian porcelain; his factory was outstanding in the Victorian period for its "art" porcelains. He also popularised the famous Willow pattern design.
Herbert Minton, succeeded his father as head of the firm, and it was due to him that he was able to develop the firm and gain it's reputation. He also enlisted the services of many skilled artists.
The first products of the Minton factory were blue transfer-printed wares. In 1798 bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) was introduced, with much success. In 1836, when Thomas Minton died and his son Herbert took over the business, the factory's main products consisted of practical and unpretentious tablewares in painted or printed earthenware or bone china, following the typical shapes and decorative patterns of the period; figures and ornamental porcelains were made increasingly from the 1820s.
In the 1820s he started production of bone china; this early Minton is regarded as comparable to French Sèvres, by which it was greatly influenced.
Minton's was the only English china factory of the 19th century to employ a Sèvres process called pâte-sur-pâte (ie: painted decoration in white clay slip instead of enamel before glazing). Parian figures were also another product by Minton.
The Minton factory was the most popular supply source in the 19th century of dinnerware made to order for embassies and for heads of state. The factory is still producing to the present day as part of the Royal Doulton Group.
Herbert Minton, was one of the 19th centuries most outstanding entrepreneurs, introducing new techniques and methods of production and so establishing Mintons reputation for both industrial enterprise and artistic excellence. A. W. N. Pugin, Sir Henry Cole, and Prince Albert were close associates whose designs were used by Minton. The painter and sculptor Alfred Stevens, the French sculptors Hugues Protât and Émile Jeannest, and the painter John Simpson were also employed there.
In 1845, Herbert Minton took Michael Daintry Hollins into partnership, and the tile-making side of the business became known as Minton Hollins & Co. Herbert Minton's successful experiments in making encaustic tiles during the 1840s( Encaustic tiles are ceramic tiles with a decoration made of different colours of clay inlaid into the surface, a method originally produced in the middle ages) this had put him at the forefront of a huge industry supplying the requirments of institutions, churches, and domestic interiors all over the world.
Later, he was a leader in exploiting industrial techniques for producing printed and painted tiles, and for the rest of the century the firm produced tiles in a vast array of styles, many of them designed by leading artists such as Christopher Dresser, Walter Crane, John Moyr Smith, and William Wise. Relief-moulded tiles were introduced to the Minton range from the 1860s.
Minton produced some of the finest examples of Parian ware, a marble-like unglazed porcelain body developed during the 1840s and used most successfully for sculptural pieces. John Bell, the American Hiram Powers, and Albert Carrier de Belleuse were among the sculptors who produced statuary for Minton; scaled-down models of larger pieces by contemporary and past sculptors were also produced in Parian, and sometimes the material was used in combination with glazed and painted bone china for display pieces.
In 1849, the French ceramist Léon Arnoux became art director at Minton and remained there until 1892. Among his achievements were the development of Renaissance-inspired ceramics such as inlaid earthenwares, pieces painted in the style of Limoges porcelain, and the richly colourful majolica, first shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and used for all kinds of objects from large garden ornaments and elaborate display pieces to dishes and jugs for the table. Arnoux attracted other French artists to Minton, notably the sculptor Carrier de Belleuse, the modeller and decorator Marc-Louis Solon, and the painter Antoine Boullemier.
Marc-Louis Solon introduced the pâte-sur-pâte technique to Minton, having developed it previously at Sèvres. This labourious process involves building up a design in relief with layers of liquid slip, each one having to dry before the next is applied. Using this technique, Solon and his apprentices modelled diaphanously clad maidens and tumbling cherubs on vases and plaques with a skill that was unmatched at any other factory.
After Herbert Minton's death in 1858, the firm was run by his nephew Colin Minton Campbell. Oriental decoration preoccupied Minton from the 1860s onward. Highly original pieces, both in earthenware and bone china, evoked Chinese cloisonné enamels, Japanese lacquer and ivories, Islamic metalwork and Turkish pottery.
In 1870, Minton's Art Pottery Studio was established in Kensington, London, under the direction of the painter W. S. Coleman, in order to encourage both amateur and professional artists to decorate china and tiles for Minton; although popular and influential, unfortunately the studio was burnt down in 1875 and was never rebuilt.
Campbell was a visionary like his uncle, but after he died in 1887, his successors did not have the same entrepreneurial skills. Even though excellent work continued to flow out of the factory, management languished among disinterested Minton family members and the company narrowly escaped bankruptcy. By the early 1900's, most of Minton's great 19th-century designers and artists had died, retired, or left the company.
From 1902, a range of slip-trailed majolica wares were Minton's contribution to Art Nouveau. Sadly, the 20th century brought progressively more difficult times, including disruption during two World Wars, until the company finally became part of the Royal Doulton group in the 1990's.
Minton is today part of Royal Doulton Tableware Ltd.,and continuing to implement special commissions while still producing the tablewares that ensure its future success.
During its history of nearly two hundred years from 1796, this very important
Stoke firm has traded under various trade styles.
Thomas Minton c.1796
Minton, Poulson and Pounall c.1800
Minton Poulson and Co. c.1801-2
Minton and Poulson c.1802-8 (second time)
Thomas Minton c.1809-17
Thomas Minton and Sons c.1817-27
Thomas Minton and Son c.1824
Thomas Minton (second time) c.1824-36
Minton and Boyle c.1836-41
Herbert Minton and Co. c.1841-45
Minton and Hollins c.1845
Herbert Minton and Co. (second time) c.1847-73