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Large Tiles

With either width or height greater than six inches

 

6" x 12" tiles (12" x 6" in horizontal orientation*) were some of the most expensive tiles to manufacture, few companies made them, clearly they required larger and more powerful machinery for dust pressing but they also had a tendency to warp in firing along the long side. The difficulty is illustrated by the tiles that we see, earlier tiles were made from plastic clay and dust pressed are prone to other manufacturing flaws, it was half a century after pressing square tiles was well accomplished that dust pressed 12" x 6" tiles become the norm. Few are victorian, the vast majority are edwardian, after that era the size fell out of favour.

Mintons Ltd produced some from as early as 1888 but these appear to be plastic clay, they called them slabs. Some dust pressed appear from the Decorative Art Tile Co apparently dating from 1888 given their registration number and their appearance in a catalogue of around the same date. Decorative Art Tile Co however decorated flat tiles and had the benefit of dealing with a number of suppliers of blanks.

Notable is that Minton Hollins one of the greatest tilemakers and whose biscuit was more widely used for decorating by the specialist decorators than any other never pressed any 12" x 6" that I have seen rather they pressed a 12" x 12" and cut in half. Sherwin & Cotton another accomplished tile maker used plastic clay for their earlier 12" x 6". 6" x 12" tiles from Godwin and Hewitt and Pilkington have been seen with clear manufacturing flaws, two companies whose output is generally free of major imperfections. Maw & Co seem to be the first that succeeded, then Sherwin & Cotton although American manufacturers also were early makers of the size and indeed even larger.

Clearly well suited to the full figural image these make up the majority or at least a plurality, landscapes especially handpainted and moulded by Sherwin & Cotton perhaps next followed by floral designs mostly printed or handpainted. There are few mass produced floral but a fair selection of handpainted, art nouveau are very rare. They were most used in fireplace panels both slabbed and fitted in to cast iron and are usually in pairs, even when seasons are represented there were often just two made as evidenced by a pair of émaux ombrants figural tiles by Sherwin & Cotton of winter and spring and a pair of landscapes by The Decorative Art Tile Co of spring and summer.

Based on fireplace panels and slabs from edwardian catalogues incorporating 6" x 12" tiles it can be calculated that they were around double the price of the same pattern on two 6" x 6" tiles or four times the price of an individual 6" x 6" tile, this differential is not recognised in current pricing so having potential for a good investment.

Most eight inch square tiles were made from around 1870 to around 1890, outside of these dates they are rarely seen. Being larger tiles they offered more scope for design, a larger 'canvas', so a greater proportion than 6" x 6" tiles are handpainted. Few were made in modern majolica, particularly with multicolour glazes, pressing was more difficult and majolica tiles were only made in large quantities after 1890.

* Horizontal dimension always precedes vertical dimension in architecture and all technical fields, latitude comes before longitude, your graphics applications always have horizontal first, when learning technical drawing I was told to think of it as 'in the house then up the stairs'.

 

 

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Eight Inch Tiles

Most eight inch square tiles were made from around 1870 to around 1900, outside of these dates they are rarely seen. Being larger tiles they offered more scope for design, a larger 'canvas', so a greater proportion than 6" x 6" tiles are handpainted. Few were made in modern majolica, particularly with multicolour glazes, pressing was more difficult and majolica tiles were only made in large quantities post 1890.

Rare 7" Minton & Co tile

 

 

 
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