Frequently Asked Questions
 

 

Do you buy antique tiles and related items?

I have some tiles I would like more information about, how can I find out about them?

How can I search the site?

I sent an email and haven't received a reply

Do you have a printed catalogue?

Do you have a showroom?

Are all your tiles shown on the web site?

Do you sell plain (field) tiles?

I have heard antique tiles have lead in the glaze, is this dangerous?

Can tiles be used in showers and splashbacks?

Is plastic clay made from plastic?

How precise are the stated dimensions?

Dates of tiles

How do you clean antique tiles?

How can I be sure the colours on screen are those I am looking for?

Do you have a returns policy?

Feedback

Mistakes

Verso

Privacy Policy

I am worried about viruses and giving my credit card details over the internet

Larger Quantities

Floor Tiles (encaustic)

Currency exchange rates

Terms of Use, webmaster and copyright information

 

Do you buy antique tiles?

We are always looking for good tiles for stock, please send images and asking price. We no longer make offers as it seemed that inevitably when we made offers the tiles ended up on eBay or were sold elsewhere and we can not offer a free valuation service at cost to ourselves and for the benefit of others. Please email images in a standard format like JPEG or PNG. We do not buy floor tiles. Emails asking if we are interested are not responded to unless they contain images and asking prices, we don't know if we are interested unless we know what the tiles are and what the asking price is! Local auctioneers offer estimated values of what tiles should achieve in their sales usually at given times and places for example special valuations days, some offer online valuations, We will usually pay the top end of auctioneer's estimate range for tiles of the types that we are interested in.

We also offer an appraisal service.

We will consider exchanges and part-exchanges, for example if you have a fireplace or washstand you wish to keep but the tiles don't suit or if you are a collector.

There are some specific tiles that we are seeking, click here for details

 

I would like information about tiles I have

We are often asked for information about many tiles, we can not offer free advice as it takes time and effort and we do need wages.

For an appraisal we charge £12 (approx. $16). This will include the likely age usually to within five years, the manufacturer, rarity, designer if known and valuations at key stages in the supply chain. Click here for more information.

If we are interested in buying we will say so, we will offer up to 30% more in part exchange for tiles we have for sale.

We are specialist in english glazed wall/fireplace/furniture tiles from the 19thC and early 20thC up to about 1920, other tiles we can not provide such comprehensive information.

Can I search the site?

We don't have a search facility on the site but you can search using your favourite search engine, simply include site:tileheaven.uk in your search terms. For example to search for tiles designed by Lewis Day enter site:tileheaven.uk lewis day. This works with all search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duckduckgo, Startpage etc., the latter two do not track you and sell your information to advertisers etc.

If you know the reference number of a tile you wish to view open any individual tile page and replace the number at the end of the URL for the number you require. For example if looking for tile 02828 open an individual tile page which may be for example www.tileheaven.uk/d/05836 and replace 05836 with 02828 giving www.tileheaven.uk/d/05836.htm. Ignore any letters at the end of the tile reference number, so if you need 05834B enter www.tileheaven.uk/d/05834.htm.

I have sent an email and haven't received a reply

Due to the amount of 'malwares', viruses, trojans and junk emails (unsolicited commercial emails, 'bulk' or 'spam') now circulating most ISPs have introduced filters to try to reduce the problems, unfortunately these filters may cut out many legitimate emails too. Most errors occur with the bulk 'free' email providers such as Yahoo!, Gmail, HotMail (and free doesn't really mean free, you pay somehow). To receive messages from us it is possible that you may need to add our addresses to the list ('whitelist') from which you wish to receive messages. This may be in the 'junk', 'spam' or 'bulk' message folders. Incoming messages from us will be from addresses including 'tileheaven.uk'.

We have never sent spam and never will, it's hardly useful for selling antique tiles.

Also see security

Do you have a printed catalogue?

No. We will never produce one illustrating antique tiles, the costs are too high.

Do you have a showroom?

Yes but the tiles on the site are not kept at the showroom, most showroom stock is the lesser quality tiles that come from buying collections, often lacking in condition and that we can not add to the site because costs of creating a webpage exceeds the sale price. Viewing and collection can be arranged for items selected or ordered from the web site.

Are all your tiles shown on the web site?

We always have more tiles working through the cleaning process which can take a lot of patience. We may be able to assist in finding specific tiles but the range of patterns and colour combinations is vast so the odds are not great. We will need a picture to identify the tile, please use standard formats image of JPEG or PNG, photograph several tiles together if need be and see our contact page for address to send to. Text descriptions of well known patterns in standard colour combinations are also acceptable, for example 'Wedgwood month, July, blue and white'.

Do you sell plain (field) tiles?

No, the packing and shipping costs are too high. Suitable plain tiles can be found locally in most places around the world. We would recommend a contrasting but complimentary colour for plain tiles, that way there is no colour clash with two similar but different colours right next to each other. Alternatively frame the decorative tiles with slim border tiles and then tile with plains.

Antique tiles have lead in the glaze, is this dangerous?

No. There is some concern about food stored in lead glazed pottery or lead crystal glassware for long periods for example red wine in lead crystal decanters but it is impossible for food to be in contact with lead glazed tiles for long enough for the lead to affect the food.

Can tiles be used in showers and splashbacks?

Yes the tiles can be used in all places that tiles are usually used.

Is plastic clay really made from plastic?

No, plastic means mouldable, or 'capable of being shaped or formed'. Obviously the word is now widely applied to mouldable materials made primarily from oil due to the fact that they are easily mouldable.

Most tiles since around 1860 have been made by putting very dry clay in the form of dust in to a press to form the tile and predominantly from around 1890 often moulded decoration too. These tiles are known as 'dust-pressed' and constitute the vast majority of tiles that we sell. Few plastic clay tiles have been made since 1870 and rarely for technical reasons as it has always been possible to purchase undecorated tile biscuit, they were mostly made to differentiate the product, to give an artisan feel to the tiles and to introduce naivety for stylistic purposes. One rare exception is tiles made from fireclay used for fitting in to high temperature stoves.

How precise are the stated dimensions?

The dimensions are nominal and are the manufacturers intended size of the finished item, few are precisely as stated. Variations are usually within a narrow range, most are within 1/16 inch (1.6mm) tolerance. On the rare occasions that we find tiles that exceed 1/8 inch (3.2mm) deviation from the standard size this is noted in our description. Tiles are more often found undersize than oversize.

Thickness also varies, the standard intended thickness is 3/8 inch (9.6mm) although some tiles were made to be as thin as 5/16 (8mm). Other tiles were made to be 1/2 inch thick, these are usually tiles with a flat surface and taking a cue from 19th century Minton tile catalogues we refer to these as 'hearth quality'. Thickness also varies due to manufacturing conditions. Typical variations in thickness can easily be overcome in fixing to walls by varying the thickness of the applied adhesive.

Dimensions are expressed in the form width x height*, this is the standard for technical usage as used by architects and engineers. Museums tend to just give largest dimension first but most everything they deal with is irregular proportions usually around the golden mean. With sizes where one dimension is double the other as 6 x 3/3 x 6 and 12 x 6/6 x 12 it is better to adopt the technical usage rather than the art market usage.

*The basic reason for this is that the eyes are side by side not one above the other, when we look at the wider world there is a limit to up and down but none from side to side, i.e. the horizon. In Technical Drawing width always precedes height, in class the suggested way to remember this is 'in the house then up the stairs'.

See also Dimensions for a more detailed explanation.

Dates of Tiles

A date expressed as circa xxxx is the mid point of the period almost always within five years either way and in some cases much less. Dates are referenced from design registration numbers, standard literature, original catalogues and from our own experience of makers marks, decorating techniques, pattern numbers and styles.

Dates expressed as design registration are the date that the design was registered by the manufacturer or designer. If the tile has the registration number verso then it almost certainly was made within two and a half years of that date as the registration lasted for just three years, an out of date registration has the opposite effect being an invitation for copyist companies to take advantage.

The majority of patterns ceased production before the three years had expired but obviously popular patterns would continue in production as long as demand warranted, older designs may remain in the catalgue and be produced to order. Companies' policies varied, some registered few or none but none registered more than a small proportion. The most popular registered designs are seen both with and without numbers usually more without than with but there are the odd one or two designs almost always with numbers even when apparently expired and some expired numbers were also shown in catalogues.

As time progressed the longevity of patterns declined, many designs from the 1870s would still have been in production in the 1890s but few designs pre 1895 would have been made post 1905. Designs were remade using new techniques for example Mintons China Works with their back catalogue of designs recycled many patterns which may have been made in encaustic in the 1850s, in print in the 1870s and in majolica in the 1890s. In the Edwardian era some styles were apparently popular for just a single season, for example some jewelled designs and the cartoon-like abstract tube line and moulded outline designs.

Pure art nouveau designs started to appear in the last year or two of the 19thC, the peak years of art nouveau design were 1903 - 1907 after which new design registrations declined rapidly. Design registrations in 1907 were the second highest since the numbering system was introduced in 1884, in 1908 they declined by over one third from the previous year to the lowest level since before 1884. Political and industrial strife, economic uncertainty and then the First World War severely curtailed consumer spending and the production of new designs. During WWI design registrations plunged to less than one-sixth of those in the mid 1880s and mid 1900s when the economic conditions were good and the new styles captured the imagination.

It can be difficult to date art nouveau designs with much more specificity as designers were at their most adventurous in this period but with this background circa 1905 is a good guide. As ever popular designs continued in production and manufacturers with large catalogues reached in to them and reintroduced earlier patterns especially in the years following WWI, some designs were reintroduced as late as the 1930s and of course in the late 20thC designs were reproduced.

How do you clean antique tiles?

The tiles we sell have been expertly cleaned and as such will not require further cleaning other than the use of ordinary mild domestic cleaners as one would use to clean modern tiles. A wipe of the surface with a cloth dampened with a mild solution of a household cleaner like washing up liquid should be all that is required. It is recommended that any excess liquid be immediately wiped off with a dry cloth.

In respect of dirty antique tiles a short answer is not possible as cleaning depends on what the dirt is. Stains may be acid or alkali, soluble or insoluble, each requires different processes. Different adhesives may have been used, again the processes of removal differ. Many tiles have combinations of stains and so cleaning can take several stages which need to be done in the correct order. Stains may have accumulated slowly in tiles over many years of use and may take many months or even years of careful attention to remove them. Verbal advice in our shops in the past especially in respect of marble cleaning has resulted in some unhappy people as they didn't take full heed of the advice so now we don't give it.

It is essential that tiles are not treated like other domestic ceramics for there is one great difference. Domestic ceramics are impervious, they are glazed all over or of impervious stoneware (clay that has fused to a glass-like state), wash them in something and the residue is easily washed away with water. Tiles however are porous, they act like a sponge soaking up whatever liquid reaches the unglazed clay on the backs and edges and even through the crazing. Once inside the clay they are very difficult to remove, repeated drying and flushing out with pure water is needed many times over. If chemicals remain inside the tile they will slowly be released as humidity is absorbed and dries out over time, like a time capsule slowly releasing hazardous chemicals in to your home. Some household cleaning chemicals react with each other producing extremely hazardous substances for example household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and ammonia reacting together can form a range of toxins from chlorine gas to explosive compounds.

Be wary of dealers trying to sell tiles and advising that they have may be easily cleaned with bleach, ammonia, spirits of salts etc., the latter sounds quite innocuous, it is in fact hydrochloric acid one of the most virulent chemicals around. First there is the obvious point, if cleaning was so easy why haven't they done it themselves before selling it after all they would have made more profit. Then maybe they have and they have not been successful in which case there may be hidden danger lurking inside the tile, you have no idea what they have tried to clean the tile with and must flush that out before risking any cleaning solutions on the tile.

Dishwasher chemicals and modern fabric washing chemicals are designed specifically to be used in powerful machines that use copious amounts of water under high pressure to wash away chemical residues from impervious kitchenwares or pervious fabrics which can be wrung dry. Neither is true of tiles, neither types of machine wash chemicals are safe to use on tiles unless handled as toxic chemicals and all residues removed.

There are some general rules to follow.

 

How can I be sure the colours on screen are those I am looking for?

We take great care to ensure the colours are truly representative of the actual tile but just as in printed brochures they say "colours are reproduced as accurately as printing processes allow" the colours on screen may not be 100%. Colours on the screen of a correctly set up computer should be more accurate than printed colours due to limitations in the printing process, many colours are not achievable in printing due to the way that inks are mixed. Printed colours are mainly composites of CYM (cyan, yellow, magenta), on screen and real life colours are composed of RGB (red, green, blue). Despite the advances in screen technology old type cathode ray tubes are still better at reproducing colours accurately than almost all flat screens.

Ambient light affects how colours are perceived, the most obvious being the difference between natural daylight under a cloudy sky and incandescent light created by a normal electric lamp. To a great extent the eye/brain combination corrects for this but computer screens don't. Blue is the most problematic colour to reproduce, there is a lot of blue in daylight and much less in incandescent light which has more yellow, the result is that blues appear brighter in daylight than in incandescent light. Most digital cameras and scanners attempt to simulate daylight with their illumination (e.g. camera flash).

Perhaps the most important difference is that screens emit light whereas objects reflect light, to be sure the brightness and contrast of your screen is correctly set you should easily be able to distinguish the eleven shaded blocks in the image below.

 

Do you have a returns policy?

Yes we do, the terms are:

 

Feedback

We do appreciate being advised that tiles have been received as we can then mark the transaction as completed. It also enables us to keep up to date with how postal and parcel services are performing. Feedback helps us to identify potential problems with our services and those of our partners.

The web site contains literally hundreds of pages and thousands of hyperlinks so there's plenty of scope for the odd one or two mistakes. Lets us know if something isn't working and we'll fix it as soon as possible.

We will post feedback for eBay sales when we know that the transaction is completed for example when the customer posts feedback or advises us of safe arrival. In the unlikely event that there is a problem of some sort we would appreciate being advised.

Mistakes

Obviously we make a few, we have hundreds of pages on the web site and are human, if you spot a mistake please email us.

At times we disagree with descriptions and comments in the established published works on tiles, we are usually aware of the discrepancy and have made our remarks in the light of those comments. Probably the most popular work on tiles, The Decorated Tile by J & B Austwick, contains something approaching one hundred debatable or outright incorrect statements as do Blanchett's veritable tomes (about the tiles we know something about), both these publications however contain a vast amount of useful and accurate information and are very worthwhile additions to the libraries of tile collectors. The same can not be said for Fowler and Harvey's book on Art Nouveau Tiles where the information is scant and the number of errors totally disproportionate, along with some very poor quality images. It has very many errors including often found designs incorrectly attributed and fakes presented as originals so please don't ask about discrepancies between our attributions and theirs. The best way to describe this publication is on its cover, the frontmost tile is a fake.

We are always interested in furthering our knowledge and from time to time have to reassess things previously believed to be correct, we very much appreciate comments and if you have a tile that appears to disagree with our remarks we would love to hear about it so please email us with a picture if possible.

Verso

Three different terms are in use to refer to the back of the tile, back, reverse and verso. Verso is used throughout the site, it is from the Latin vers, ablative of versus, past participle of vertere, to turn.

Verso is widely used for art and collectables where the back of the item carries relevant information, most used for coins and medals but also paintings for when the artist has noted or signed verso. It is the standard term in the general art world used to refer to the back, it has no other meanings so can not be misunderstood and therefore can readily be used shorthand. There is no need to write "the back shows xyz" or "on the back there is xyz" simply "verso xyz" carries the meaning.

Reverse is quite widely used but confuses the brain temporarily especially for people newly introduced to tile collecting, it will also do so to some extent even to the most read tile collector. Reverse is a verb, to reverse, so when the brain sees it as a noun it looks wrong and the brain has to double-take to ensure the correct interpretation is selected. Frequent use of reverse in the context of verso will lead to confusion when reverse is used in it's correct context as the brain will have to again check which meaning is to be understood.

Back can also lead to some confusion, less so than reverse but even so the brain has to check other possibilities, back on the internet of course refers to the previous page. If back is used in a different context anywhere else it again means the brain has to think twice.

Verso has a single meaning and conveys the required information succinctly.

Privacy Policy

We do not and will not disclose customer information to third parties. We are sure that all our customers email addresses are not enough to be worth much more than a broken tile! We hate receiving spam ourselves and will never impose it on anyone else.

There are no images, hidden or otherwise on this web site that are hosted from any other server. (All images send your computer details to the server that supplies them, hidden images often as small as 1 pixel by 1 pixel are used to track the sites that you visit). There is no third party advertising which also follows your movements around the web, we don't aim to gain a few more dollars from selling our space and hence your web surfing details to web advertisers like DoubleClick.

Security

We pay strict attention to security concerns, email attachments are opened in secure applications which can not access the rest of our system, we have never been infected by a virus, spyware, adware etc.

There are no trackers, scripts or images or any other content from third parties on the site. If you use browser extensions such as Ghostery, NoScript or AdBlock you will see zero trackers etc., no one knows you have visited the site just like looking in a shop window on the street you are free to browse without suffering 'targetted' advertising etc.

We prefer payments direct in to our bank account at HSBC branches or via internet or telephone banking. Online payments are made with PayPal, are all transacted on PayPal's servers, we never know your credit card or bank details.

The vast majority of internet problems, viruses and other malwares only affect Windows and do not affect users of other computer operating systems. We do not use any Microsoft software due to their dubious ethics and appalling security record, most viruses, spyware, adware etc. are created and propagated due to flaws in Windows operating systems and applications.

*Personally my computer was infected with a virus once, that was over ten years ago some time before we were trading on the web. No damage was caused, the computer was acting a little strange so I checked out technical news on the web. I found the virus report and followed the instructions - deleted it, searched for infected files (there weren't any) and that was it. The current Apple operating system, Mac OS X, has been in existence for six years in which time there have been ZERO viruses, there is no spyware or adware etc. that can load itself on to Apple computers unless the user specifically permits it to including entering their password. From time to time researchers find potential vulnerabilities in software but these are usually fixed very quickly and never have been exploited.

Larger Quantities

US customers often ask for larger quantities of tiles for use in fireplaces, up to 70 tiles for a single fireplace - about half for the insert and half for the hearth.

We get few large sets, most British fireplaces and washstands have 10 - 12 (or equivalent) decorative tiles in the insert and plain hearth tiles. Plain hearth tiles give a much more aesthetically pleasing overall effect as the fireplace is most often viewed from a seated position wherefrom seeing a patterned hearth at a shallow angle confuses the eye. Occasionally we get decorative hearth tiles in good condition but these are usually from smaller fireplaces in bedrooms, even then the hearth tiles did not necessarily match tiles in the inserts. There are also rare fireplaces with up to 20 tiles. Sometimes we get matching sets from one or more adjacent houses and so can build larger sets but this is getting to be an extremely rare occurrence. Similar applies to furniture, washstands usually have the most tiles but again rarely more than twelve.

Where we do get large panels of fireplaces tiles rarely are there more than 6 decorative tiles per side. The rest of the area was made up of plain colour tiles, usually arranged in a series of borders. Plain tiles were made in a bewildering range of sizes, down to 3" x 1/4" (one-quarter of an inch) and also a mind boggling 4" x 1/8" made by Maw & Co. of course! Even though the Victorians liked bright and well (even over-) decoration a large area of highly decorative tiles was too much for most of them. Square (6" x 6") tiles were often arranged in a chequer pattern, patterned alternating with plain. Many 6" x 6" tiles are divided to look like smaller tiles, with a decorated centre and plain 'borders'. Also popular were quartered tiles, 6" x 6" tiles divided in to four 3" x 3" squares, usually two plain squares and two decorated. Latterly tiles more often had a smaller design in the middle of the tile effectively with a plain border.

Typical 19th century British fireplaces are completely different to most American fireplaces. In Britain the fireplaces were made from cast iron to optimise fuel efficiency when burning coal. Wood burning fireplaces ceased to be standard in Britain in the mid 18th century as we had chopped most of our forests down so coal was the main fuel. In the US wood was more readily available and cheap enough to be used as fuel.

Tiles, though rather more expensive 100 years ago than they are now, were considerably cheaper than cast iron. Builders have always sought to keep the prices of new houses as low as possible so slabbed tiled fireplaces were 'preferred' to the more efficient cast iron as soon as they could do it. Architect designed fireplaces often used a lot of tiles, from the 18th century onwards, but these are rare. They were common in less than stately homes by 1880, by 1918 most fireplaces in Britain were tiled all over - in boring tiles!

We would suggest plain majolica tiles for hearths, traditional in the UK and the US, this gives more scope and allows a bigger budget for the tiles vertically mounted in the fireplace, those that are most visible and therefore most important.

Floor Tiles (encaustic)

We do not deal in encaustic tiles or geometric floor tiles which are often erroneously referred to as 'Minton tiles' especially by estate agents. The Minton companies (there were several) were not the only makers of encaustic tiles. We occasionally get glazed encaustic tiles which were primarily for hearths.

Currency exchange rates

Dollar prices as shown as a guide only, the price shown is representative of exchange rates on the date the tile was listed or page updated. A quotation based on current rates can be provided or to see current dollar price and convert price to other currencies try this Universal Currency Converter. Payments can be made by PayPal in Pounds Sterling and the amount will be converted to dollars at the rate current when the payment is made.

 

 

 
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