Famous Potters of Stoke-on-Trent


The history of Mintons

Thomas Minton 1765-1836

Thomas Minton moved to Stoke in 1793 and opened his newly built factory in 1796 - he went on to become Spode's nearest rival.

He made Minton ware famous - 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 popularized the famous so-called Willow pattern.

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 and the name continues to the present day as part of the Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton Group. 

The first products of the Minton factory were blue transfer-printed wares, but in 1798 bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) was introduced, with considerable success. Until 1836, when Thomas Minton died and his son Herbert took over the business, the factory's staple products consisted of useful 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).
Minton also produced Parian figures. 


Herbert Minton
, 1793–1858, succeeded his father as head of the firm, and to him was due its development and reputation. He enlisted the services of artists and skilled artisans.

Herbert Minton, one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of the 19th century, introduced new techniques and methods of production and established 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.

Tile making

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 had set him at the forefront of a huge industry supplying the needs 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'.

The Minton-Hollins tile factory 
A grade II listed building 
only the frontage remains which is used as offices

Parian ware

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.

Léon Arnoux

The French ceramist Léon Arnoux became art director at Minton in 1849 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 

Solon introduced the pâte-sur-pâte technique to Minton, having developed it previously at Sèvres. This laborious 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.


Colin Minton Campbell

After Herbert Minton's death in 1858, the firm was run by his nephew Colin Minton Campbell, a similarly dynamic and innovative director. 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, the studio was not rebuilt when it burnt down in 1875.

Minton's output of distinguished ornamental wares continued unabated to the end of the 19th century and beyond. From 1902, a range of slip-trailed majolica wares represented Minton's contribution to Art Nouveau. Minton's ability to pursue these often expensive technical and artistic challenges is a tribute to the success of the tablewares which have been the firm's financial backbone throughout its history. 



Marks of Minton ware Colin Minton Campbell Minton majolica  Minton Tiles Evidence of Minton in Stoke 

questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks