Carlton Ware World banner

The backstamps shown below in this column represent a good selection but is not exhaustive.

Compiled by
Harvey Pettit 2024

They are roughly in chronological order.

Dates when given are mostly

Types of Carlton Ware
Revised & expanded January 2024.

For almost 100 years Wiltshaw & Robinson, the makers of Carlton Ware, produced an extraordinary range of earthenware and china at the Carlton Works in Copeland Street, Stoke-on-Trent.

Here I
briefly describe and show most of the main categories, roughly in chronological order.

Harvey Pettit


A selection  of Tinted Faience
Some of the earliest Carlton Ware was more utilitarian than decorative, though still attractive. Useful shapes such as teapots, hot water jugs and biscuit barrels were dipped into coloured slip (liquid clay) coating items in a thin layer of clay. By carefully dipping the upper half of the body of a jug, for example, upside down into one coloured slip and then the other way up into a contrasting coloured slip a simple but attractive two tone decoration was achieved as you can see on the right.

Wiltshaw & Robinson, the makers of Carlton Ware, called this type of ware TINTED FAIENCE; tinted referring to the different coloured slips.

A more decorative effect was achieved by applying sprigs of thin press moulded shapes, often of classical figures, to the surface of the coloured slips. This technique produced what is called sprigged ware, usually wrongly described as jasper ware as made by Josiah Wedgwood, though it gives a similar appearance. Many other potteries used this technique. ❑ © HP

Blush Ware

Blush Ware

Not long after its formation in 1890 or a little before, Wiltshaw & Robinson (W&R) introduced a highly successful range of decorative earthenwares, now called
Blush Ware. This name aptly describes the delicate pastel shaded backgrounds to patterns, usually printed and enamelled or sometimes freehand painted.

The quality of some of these wares is very high, and, in the style of the time, W&R employed elaborate shapes, often adorned with sumptuous gilding, including raised gold. ❑ © HP.

White Ground Ware

More unusually, some of the earlier Blush Ware patterns were also used against a plain white ground, so without the shaded and tinted, vellum-like backgrounds. Similarly, blushware patterns were also printed in blue and flow blue against a white ground as shown in the next category.

If you would like to see a range of Blush Ware patterns named by the Pottery then click here.

Blue & White

A selection of Blue & White

As an adjunct to Blush Ware described above, Wiltshaw & Robinson used the same shapes and pattern prints to produce monochrome decorations such as
Blue & White and Flow Blue, again often embellished with gold. ❑ © HP.

If you would like to see more detail and examples, then click here.

Heraldic China

Heraldic China

Wiltshaw & Robinson (W&R) was one of the first of many potteries to follow W H Goss's lead in the production of Heraldic Souvenir China emblazoned with heraldic crests.  W&R introduced their models around 1903.

Production of this fascinating range of miniatures continued well into the 1920s.  Initially, W&R based its models on ancient artifacts found in museums, but within a short time, offered models of an entertaining and humorous nature.

Suffragettes, modes of transport, latest inventions, seaside themes and popular songs also provided inspiration to the pottery.

The 1914-18 war brought about the introduction of many models of a military nature.
To commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the war, during 2014 I published a series of 12 articles on Carlton Heraldic China related to the conflict, the most comprehensive to be published. Click or tap on the image on the right to view.

The quality of this Carlton China was high and W&R prided themselves on their accuracy of the heraldic devices.
The wide range of shapes, I estimate to have totalled approaching 1000, provide a fascinating record of the social history of the earlier part of the twentieth century. ❑ © HP.


A selection of Armand Lustre

ARMAND LUSTRE WARE was the first of Carlton Ware's lustre decorations. The range was probably introduced in 1913 or during the early part of World War One. It was devised and introduced by the newly appointed Horace Wain, the first known Art Director at the Carlton Works.

ARMAND'S main characteristic, aside from its lustre finishes, was a stippled or mottled ground. Unusually, the underside of ware was also stippled and lustred. A distinctive circular, gold printed backstamp was often used.  At its centre, the ARMAND LUSTRE WARE backstamp portrays flying fish leaping above swirling waters though there are examples which use the standard crown backstamp.

The range was available plain without further decoration or with a gold printed design decorated in on-glaze lustres of various colours. © HP 2024.


A selection of LUSTRINE

By the end of World War One in 1918, manufacturers of enamels and colours for the pottery industry had developed what are known as commercial lustres in a wide range of colours. Their attractive, iridescent finishes were easy to apply and fire.

Under Enoch Boulton, who succeeded Horace Wain as Art Director, Carlton Ware took advantage of the availability of these commercial lustres. In the early 1920s the pottery introduced its
LUSTRINE range, which was offered on a wide range of tablewares, especially coffee sets, which had become fashionable.

In 1924, the trade press tells us that Carlton Ware’s new range of lustres was offered in no fewer than twelve very smart colours, four of which you can see on the left. ❑ © HP 2024.


Best Ware

BEST WARE was the name given on the Carlton Works for the more highly decorated wares, usually employing elaborate gold printed and enamelled patterns.  The highly skilled techniques needed to make them had been established early on with the Blush Ware patterns, the Best Ware of their time.

Often BEST WARE patterns were underglaze painted, as well as using onglaze enamels and lustres, gold printing and raised enamelling. The most popular were the many Chinoiserie patterns such as MIKADO, TEMPLE and the elaborate CHINALAND.

Perhaps, the most extraordinary BEST WARE are the Art Deco designs of the 1930s with archetypal patterns such as FAN, BELL and JAZZ. Such exotic decorations will never be made again, because of the high cost of production and loss of expertise. ❑
© HP.


Salad Ware
SALAD WARE'S considerable popularity generated the revenue that enabled the extravagances of the elaborate, original and expensive BEST WARE patterns.

All was expertly modelled and hand painted in attractive colours. Today, we divide this wide range into Floral Embossed and Fruit Embossed wares, although at the works it was all known as SALAD WARE primarily because the first of these ranges was the very popular LETTUCE & TOMATO versions of which remained in production for more than fifty years.

Other popular designs were APPLE BLOSSOM, FOXGLOVE, BUTTERCUP and WILD ROSE, but there were many more including the earlier TULIP with its unusual silky semi-matt glaze. ❑ © HP


Best Ware
Predominantly, HANDCRAFT was decorated using the palette of colours shown in the picture on the right, though eventually there were quite a number of exceptions.

W&R introduced this range c.1928, as a response to the fashion for freehand painted decorations.

Around this time, many other British potteries offered modern freehand painted wares, such as Poole Pottery, Gray's Pottery, Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff. Such was the zeitgeist.

Most significant for Carlton Ware was its introduction of matt glazes, which distinguishes much of this important range and presenting a luxurious, silky appearance. ❑ © HP.

COLOURED WARE or Novelty Ware

Coloured Ware

COLOURED WARE was the name Carlton Ware gave to a range of novelty wares first introduced in the mid-1920s.  Many models were executed with a great sense of humour.

Novelties were to become another hallmark of Carlton Ware.  It was widely acknowledged throughout the pottery industry that Carlton excelled in their production.

Carlton Ware produced so many different models that there was always something new for a customer. COLOURED WARE complimented the vast array of SALAD WARE and like it, offered items to suit all pockets, as well as raising a smile. ❑ © HP.


Carlton China

In 1928, as a means of expanding its already extensive range of wares, Wiltshaw & Robinson bought the nearby Vine Pottery, previously the china works of Birks Rawlins & Co.

Carlton Ware had already established itself as makers of fine earthenware tea and coffee sets, so the diversification to china versions was a natural progression for the forward-looking pottery.

Initially, Carlton Ware continued to fulfill orders for Birks Rawlins patterns, most of which were of a traditional nature, but within a short time many new and modern designs were introduced.

In 1931, somewhat erroneously, W&R's bank, forced the sale of the Vine Pottery.  During its four or so years of production, astonishing numbers of new patterns were introduced. ❑ © HP.

Advertising Ware

Guinness Advertising Ware
The earliest known Carlton Ware Advertising Ware dates from about 1900 and took the form of match holders and strikers for companies such as Bryant & May and Burton Ale.  From the 1930s onwards John Haig & Sons, distillers, became big customers using ware to advertise their whisky in pubs and hotels with specially modelled ashtrays and water jugs.

Other brewers and distillers took advantage of the skills at Copeland Street, most notably Arthur Guinness, Son & Co., especially with a range or bar ornaments.  These were based on animals and the zoo keeper that John Gilroy had created for Guinness advertisments. Alas, Master moulds for these charming figures have ended up in the hands of the unscrupulous and fakes abound. See our Guinness fakes pages to see these and more.

Of similar distinction are the models of vintage cars made for the British Motor Corporation and British Leyland.  Cadbury's, Harrods and even Singapore Airlines were amongst many other customers.  Like Heineken, another client, Carlton Ware reaches the parts that other potteries cannot reach! ❑ © HP.

Contemporary Ware - the 1950s & 60s

Contemporary Ware

During the post war period many pottery designers looked towards Scandinavia for inspiration and Carlton Ware was no exception.

Fluid and freeform shapes were the order of the day. WINDSWEPT, a large range of tea, coffee and table ware, is a good example.  The TRIFORM and SHELF ranges are others employing the fashionable fluid shapes of the time.

Even Salad Ware was given the treatment with ranges such as CONVOLVULOUS, MAGNOLIA and ORCHID, all of which were popular and used new background colours.

This era of Carlton Ware's production is underappreciated at the moment, but its day is coming. ❑ © HP.

The early Woods period 1968-1974

Carlton Ware from the 1960s & 70s

Two years after Cuthbert Wiltshaw's death in 1966 Carlton Ware was bought by Arthur Wood & Sons.  The printed and enamelled Best Ware patterns that had generated so much prestige for the pottery were discontinued.  They were replaced by a much smaller range of less costly slide on lithographic decorations, similar in appearance to their predecessors.

New Salad ware lines were introduced in the form of CANTERBURY, NEW BUTTERCUP, with its variant SOMERSET. The new owners also looked to the past for inspiration with the resulting remodelling of APPLE BLOSSOM, to give us NEW APPLE BLOSSOM, and an uninspiring range of flow blue decorations on traditional shapes.

Emphasis was given to the less expensive wares, many of which were of a practical nature, especially coffee sets in fashionable plain colours, but gift ware continued to play an important part. The mood of the time was caught by many of these items, especially a range of money boxes with psychedelic lithographic decorations. ❑ © HP.

Walking Ware period c.1974 - 1986

Walking Ware teapot, milk & sugar
In 1974 Roger Michell and Danka Napiorkowska, who ran the Yorkshire based Lustre Pottery, approached Carlton Ware to make their designs under license. And so began the manufacture of the charming and amusing WALKING WARE at the Carlton Works.
Its enormous success led to the introduction of similar ranges such as
RJS (Running, Jumping and Standing still!) and BIG FEET.

The popularity of WALKING WARE stimulated the introduction of many other amusing ranges by Carlton Ware's in-house designer Pam Souch and a large number of more original and quirky designs entered production.

These wonderful wares were to be the swan-song for an extraordinary pottery, which had survived for almost 100 years in an industry that had always been precarious. In 1987 the Carlton Works in Copeland Street was sold to a holding company. ❑ © HP.

County Potteries takes over Carlton Ware

Coloured Ware

Disastrously, in 1987 County Potteries, a holding company, bought James Kent and then Carlton Ware.  Two years later, the new directors put Carlton and Kent into voluntary liquidation. County Potteries went into compulsory liquidation shortly afterwards.

Eventually, Paul Thompson, one of the directors of Kent, Carlton and County Potteries, was disqualified from running any company.  The loss of so many jobs was a tragedy for both Potteries and their many employees, who had dedicated their working lives to James Kent and Carlton Ware.

During County Potteries mismanagement, little new ware was introduced.

Carlton Ware, however, did rise again, though production ceased at Copeland Street when, during liquidation, the works was sold to a property developer and turned into student accommodation. After 125 years as a pottery, the building, at least, was saved. ❑ © HP.

John McCluskey 1989

Novelty Teapots

The voluntary receivership meant that all Carlton Ware's assets had to be sold and in 1989 John McCluskey, a manufacturer of ceramic door furniture, bought the pattern and shape records, along with the goodwill and master moulds. Most importantly he bought the registered trade mark that Cuthbert Wiltshaw had devised and registered in 1926. Since it is in Cuthbert's hand, it is what we know as and call the Script backstamp.

Mr. McCluskey's aim, initially, was to concentrate on more expensive lines and with an eye to introduce high quality dinnerware. A limited range of ruby lustre ware would be available and all to be made at his industrial unit in nearby Stone.

Within a short time, Mr. McCluskey introduced a range of novelty teapots, all of which were modelled with great precision.  His new venture, however, was short lived and production ceased about 1992. ❑ © HP.

Trade Marked/Branded Carlton Ware 1997-2015

Coloured Ware

In 1997 Mr. McCluskey sold the Carlton Ware trade mark to Francis Joseph Salmon. The trade mark is what we call the Script backstamp, which was registered by Cuthbert Wiltshaw in 1926.

Carlton Ware Trade Mark

Although Mr. Salmon's wares used the trade mark as shown above, much of what he had made by numerous Staffordshire potteries during his ownership of the mark lacked the originality for which Carlton Ware had been known.

For the first ten years or so, designs were very much in pastiche, such as copies of the work of Clarice Cliff and Shelley Potteries from the 1930s as well as reinterpretations of some Carlton Ware patterns from the same era.  In addition, when artwork came out of copyright, illustrations from the books of Mabel Lucie Attwell, Florence Upton and Lucy Dawson were used on various items also giving the appearance of being made in the earlier part of the twentieth century.

In 2004, three years after Robertson's dropped the use of an image of a "Golly" as its brand logo, Mr Salmon offered many different models of the controversial caricature marketed through leaflets called The Original Golly Times from "The Original Golliwog Company", which Mr. Salmon had just set up. The figures are controversial because they offend many black people. For this reason, numerous National Newspapers refused to take advertising from Mr. Salmon.

The trade marked/branded ware was made for Mr. Salmon by various Staffordshire potteries.
These included Moorland Pottery, Peggy Davis Ceramics and Bairstow Manor Pottery.

In 2011, original designs began to be introduced as a consequence of associations with Anita Harris, Marie & Peter Graves, as well as Lorna Bailey. For some reason, these 'affiliations' were short lived. Mr. Salmon too had a go at designs as did the decorator Lynn Cyples (LC)!

Mr. Salmon's trade marked/branded ware was aimed at the so called 'collectibles' 'investment' market with his ware being made in small limited editions in a multitude of different colour combinations. Many trials, colour trials, studio trials, samples, prototypes, artists proofs, show specials and limited editions were made. This was deliberate in order to create perceived rarity to collectors and as such these items were offered at higher prices. By 2015 this marketing technique may have run its course since Mr. Salmon's ware had ceased production.  ❑ © HP.

This website is image rich and is intended to be viewed on devices with larger screens such as tablets, laptops and desktops.
Although it can be viewed on smartphones you will get a poorer viewing experience.

Harvey Pettit © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.