Shropshire History

Thomas Minton


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Thomas Minton was born in Shrewsbury in 1766 and began working during the early 1780s as an apprentice transfer print engraver at the Caughley Pottery Works near Broseley. This was owned by Thomas Turner and Minton worked on copperplate engravings for the production of transferware. While at Caughley, Minton is thought to have worked on chinoiserie landscape patterns, including willows. Despite preparing copperplates of them, the Caughley works never produced the standard willow pattern which includes the bridge and the fence in the foreground. Minton left the Caughley works in 1785 and moved to London to work for Spode. While here, he met Sarah and married her in 1789.


In 1793, he moved to Stoke-on-Trent and set up his own pottery factory for the manufacture of white-glazed earthen tableware (also called pearlware) including blue transfer printed and painted wares. Variations of his willow and other designs were acquired by Spode and other factories, thus the English “willow pattern” was created.

The first products of the Minton factory were blue transfer-printed ware but in 1796 Minton went into partnership with Joseph Poulson, who produced ornamental bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) at a factory nearby. From 1798, Minton used Poulson's factory for producing his own china ware. Tthe factory's staple products from that time consisted of cream-coloured and blue-printed earthenware majolica, bone china and Parian porcelain figures. It was the only English china factory at that time to employ a Sčvres process called pâte-sur-pâte (decoration painted onto white clay slip instead of enamelling before glazing). In the 19th Century, the Minton factory became the most popular supplier of dinnerware and many sets were made to order for embassies and heads of state. The name continues to the present day as part of the Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton Group. 


Minton Art Nouveau Plaque c1876


After Poulson's death in 1808, he continued china production there until 1816. In 1824 he built a new factory for china and it was here that the company of Thomas Minton and Sons (known more simply as Minton’s) was developed. At his death in 1836, his son Herbert Minton continued and redeveloped the business.


Minton’s pottery was marked on the bottom with a distinctive symbol, the following were used.