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Rare Pair of Barbotine Arts & Crafts Tiles


Style/technique: Floral barbotine
Manufacturer: Sherwin & Cotton
Dimensions: 6" x 6"
Date: design registered 1886
• Condition: Very fine
• Price: £275 (approx $430)
• Ref: 03077/03078


In very fine condition, left has a couple of very tiny surface marks, right has a small chip left edge. other marks are manufacturing flaws. Super brilliantly glazed.


UK Special Delivery £285

EU Priority £290

US and World Priority £297

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A great pair of barbotine tiles with nature studies of blossom and fruit. Lovely natural colours very relaxing but still a pleasure to behold, exceedingly brilliant glazes that create a glow in the sark effect as they catch the light. These tiles were made for the ironfounders William Henry Micklethwait, and when fitted in to iron fireplaces with the coals glowing would really look amazing

Entirely handmade, true arts & crafts, the buff clay pressed in to a mould with grains of brown and green clay to produce a speckled effect. Then decorated by painting with slips rather than stain giving a three dimensional effect and finished with a brilliant glaze. Very strong and durable tiles made from dense buff clay and thicker than usual at half an inch.

Versos very clean, Staffordshire knot badge, rare impressed registration numbers, incised pattern numbers. Tiles for the scholar of dates, designs and techniques, not really to be stuck on to a wall, I suspect that few museums have seen or even heard of these.

Only three barbotine tiles with registration numbers are known, the designs registered to Wm Henry Micklethwait ironfounders from Rotheram the tiles made for them by Sherwin and Cotton. Hand decorated tiles never have embossed or impressed pattern or registration numbers [1] except with this rare exception where the clay is plastic clay and the clay pressed soon before the tile was decorated. The decorating would be effected when the clay was still quite moist as it would help the slips to adhere.

The design registration numbers suggest that barbotine tiles like this were produced before similar modern majolica tiles (dust pressed relief and multicolour lead glazes). These have pattern numbers B225 and B227 suggesting a couple of hundred barbotine designs had already been made by 1886 which would certainly be over the course of a number of years. The earliest multicolour modern majolica I have seen with registration number is 1887, a handful of earlier registrations are noted although it is not known if these were made polychrome.

[1] This is a great clue for identifying tube lined tiles, if they have moulded pattern or registration numbers verso they aren't tubelined. The possible exception would be if the clay was plastic clay but I've never seen one with moulded number, a plastic clay tube lined with rubber stamped registration number has been noted.



The image is full size at 72 dpi (about 860 pixels wide) in maximum quality JPEG format. A larger 120 dpi image also in maximum quality JPEG format can be forwarded by email if required.

The image is a little oversize rather than cropped close to the edges so that the edges can easily be seen and any chips etc can be quickly spotted. Other marks described are usually not visible at all when the tile is viewed straight as one normally sees it and can only be seen with a critical eye when the tile is tilted to catch imperfections in reflected light. For more details of how we describe marks see Condition.

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