William Adams & Sons (& Co)


Location and period of operation:

William Adams & Sons

Tunstall &


(to 1990's with Wedgwood)


Manufacturer of earthenware, Basalts, Jasper, Parian ware at Tunstall and Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent, England.
  • The Adams family have been associated with pottery manufacture in the North Staffordshire Potteries since the 15th century

  • In 1657, Robert Adams and his son John of Hadderridge and Brick House, established the Brickhouse Potteries. At the time these were the only works of any size yet built in Burslem. Many later William Adams & Sons marks include 'ESTB 1657'. 

  • The early history of the Adams family of potters is complex - for more detailed information see the book Ten Generations of a Potting Family, compiled by Robert Nicholls. "Not only have the potteries been carried on by members of the family from their foundation, but ten persons named William Adams have in three centuries been controlling the business." - The Pottery Gazette and Trade Review April 1 1912 from an interview given by Percy W. L. Adams.

  • The origin of William Adams & Sons is generally given as c.1769.

  • Also see a 1956 Feature article on William Adams and a summary of the History of Adams family of Potters

  • In 1834 works at Greenfield in Tunstall were opened. 

  • The Stoke based factories were closed in 1863, and the Tunstall factories (Greenfield and Greengates) carried on by William Adams (b.1798) until his death in 1865, the business was then conducted by his sons, William and Percy Walter Lewis Adams. In turn they were succeeded by their sons and grandsons who came to direct the business.

  • "It is recorded that, in the 1860s, 73,000 dozen plates were made each week. At that time the trade was entirely confined to foreign markets" Ceramic Art of Great Britain, Llewellynn Jewitt. 

  • A 1906 advert for William Adams & Co states that the proprietors were: William Adams, William Adams Jun, A. G. Alcock, Percy W. L. Adams. 

  • The business was incorporated in 1925 as William Adams and Sons (Potters) Ltd.

  • In 1929 the Greengates factory was mostly rebuilt and enlarged and in 1956 the Greenfields factory was closed and production moved to the enlarged Greengates Works. 

  • William Adams remained open during the Second World War under the Wartime Concentration Scheme - they were permitted to produce undecorated domestic ware. They also produced canteen ware for the British armed forces

  • In June 1945 Adams were granted a licence to produce 'fancies' for the home market

  • William Adams and Sons was acquired by the Wedgwood Group in 1966 - Wedgwood manufactured ware at their own factories with the ADAMS name. 

  • By the 1990s the Adams brand appears to have been phased out by Wedgwood. 


Adams. Established A.D. 1657 by John Adams, at the Brickhouse Potteries, Burslem
William Adams & Co, Potters
Greenfield and Greengates Manufactories
Tunstall, Staffordshire

1906 advert from the Pottery Gazette and Trade Review 



William Adams & Co., Tunstall


"William Adams & Co., Greenfield and Greengates Potteries, Tunstall, are one of the oldest firms in the Potteries. Their business having been established by John Adams so far back as 1657, is still in the hands of his descendants.

Theirs is a many-sided business. They are manufacturers of white granite, high-class semi-porcelain, both plain and decorated, medium bodied ware, painted under glaze, sponged, band and line, sanitary ware, tiles, and general earthenware of practically every description for the home, foreign, and Colonial trades. 

Their semi-porcelain toilet and table ware is supplied in a variety of printed and enamelled decorations on a number of up-to-date shapes, and also on selected reproductions of their old-time forms. There is just now a preference for old styles, especially in toilet ware. These the firm are able to supply from their early moulds and ornamented with their early transfer decorations. 

They have a world-wide reputation for "Adams jaspers", made by William Adams from 1745 to 1805. The firm still have the original models designed by their eminent predecessor and famous modellers who worked with him. The jaspers they are supplying to-day are therefore not mere copies, they are veritable replicas of the original Adams jaspers, with classical and eighteenth-century subjects in white bas-relief on blue and other coloured grounds. These reproductions are not limited to ornamental vases, but include useful lines, such as jardinières, tea-pots, sugars and creams, candlesticks, trinket sets, biscuit jars, hot-water jugs, and other articles for the china dealer and the silver mounter. 

The "Florence" shape flower-pot — the centre piece of the upper row in our illustration — with the design of the Dancing Maidens in white relief, makes an attractive jardinière. The vases right and left of this are classical in form and ornamentation. The vase No. 313, on the left, with the "Seasons" design is a pleasing specimen. The figures representing the seasons are said to have been originally modelled by Adams himself, as were many others of the designs used at his factories. The colour of the blue is excellent, while the sharpness in detail of the figures and design in relief is remarkable. 

All the firm’s productions have the name impressed on the bottom. Messrs. Wm. Adams & Co. have for some time been supplying miniature pieces in loving cups, vases, and a number of small items in their famous Jasper, with the arms of towns and cities applied in white relief. These are useful for presents, and serve as excellent souvenirs for visitors, while the prices are moderate for high-class fabrics. Messrs. H. & M. Harris, 7, Buchanan-buildings, Holborn, E.C., are the firm’s London agents for this branch of their business, and they will be pleased to show buyers samples of the ware at any time."

Editorial in the March 1906 Pottery Gazette 



William Adams & Co., Tunstall, in the County of Stafford
Makers of Earthenware of Every Description for all Markets.
Adams Jasper
Adams Potteries
Estd 1657

advert from the November 1906 Pottery Gazette and Trade Review 


William Adams & Sons (Potters) Ltd


advert from the 1951 Pottery Gazette and Trade Review Reference Book 



blue & white transfer ware plate in the Palestine pattern 

"Palestine - William Adams & Sons. A series of romantic scenes with prominent tents or gazebos, figures and distant minarets. The border consists of smaller scenes within scroll frames separated by floral groups." - The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery, Coysh & Henrywood

A similar pattern was produced by Hackwood & Co under the name Damascus





pink & white transfer ware plate in the Damascus pattern 

This same pattern was also produced by Adams under the name 'Palestine'  - this does not appear to have been a mistake as a number of examples are known 

There are also examples with the scene transposed with the 
figures on the left of the pattern. 

W. Adams & Sons

impressed mark 
W. Adams & Sons





plate in the European Imari style

Imari pattern

Estd 1657

the pattern name 'Derby' is probably
in imitation of Royal Crown Derby
who were renowned for the
production if Imari ware 




Calyx ware:

Calyx ware was a trade name of William Adams & Sons.

There is little or no information on the origins of the name. Originally Calyx ware appeared to be hand decorated ware. Later Calyx ware was hand coloured transfer patterns, all in a light pattern, often with pastel coloured blocks/bands. 

The name appears to have been introduced around 1930 and continued thought the operation of the Adams business. The name was continued after the 1966 take over by Wedgwood, the use of the name seems to have finished around 1975.   


bowl in the Georgian Tulip pattern 

Estd. 1657

Calyx Ware
Hand Painted

photos courtesy:  Leslie Town


plate in the Metz pattern 

Calyx Ware
Real English Ironstone
Est 1657

Member of the 
Wedgwood Group


Estb 1657
Calyx Ware

c. 1930-62

Calyx Ware
Real English Ironstone
Made in England
Established 1657

c. 1962+

Calyx Ware
Real English Ironstone
Est 1657

Member of the 
Wedgwood Group

c. 1966-75



Style of name used on ware:


ADAMS & CO impressed mark, 1769-1800
ADAMS impressed mark, 1787-1805 on Jasper ware and 1800-1864 on general ware.
W. ADAMS & CO impressed mark, c.1815 (rare impressed mark)
W. A. & S
names and initials used in several, different printed marks. Often the name of the pattern is included, 1819-64
ADAMS impressed mark found on figures and groups (parian) 1845-64
W. ADAMS names and initials used in several, different printed marks. Often the name of the pattern is included, mid 19th C
W. A. & CO names and initials used in several, different printed marks. Often the name of the pattern is included, 1893-1917



Marks used on ware for identification:


this table of marks was printed in the 1917 Pottery Gazette

 note: the 'Warranted Staffordshire J.M. & S' mark is that of 
John Meir & Son who operated at the Adams' Greengate Pottery 



Some Adams' marks incorporated a crown and 
Stafford knot used 
from c.1879 and into the early 20thC



W. Adams & Sons
- 1928 - 

The ‘W’ within the diamond most likely relates to the products being commissioned and produced for the Office of Works (until 1939)

mark with the Royal Cypher GR V

George V the King of the United Kingdom (1919-36)



The mark shown indicates that the ware was produced for and supplied to the British Government; it was ultimately property of the Crown/Government, hence the GR-VI Cypher.

This mark is there to distinguish the piece from being normal ‘utilitarian’ ware for public sale during the period surrounding the Second World War. 

William Adams (and others) were given government contracts throughout the late 1930s and into the 1940s (WWII) and produced canteen ware - most likely for the armed services.

The year of manufacturer is generally included.



- click for examples of marks used by Adams



Trade Names:


(20thC trade name impressed or 
incorporated in printed marks) 

(trade name for a new extra-strong body 
introduced in 1963) 


1956 Feature article on Adams


History of Adams family of Potters

Adams Index Page


Questions, comments, contributions? email: Steve Birks