1930’s Carlton Ware

Carlton ware has for many years been one of the most popular English factories among collectors and furnishers and the 1930s to the 1960s is one of its most successful eras.

The Carlton Works was established in 1890 by James Frederick Wiltshaw and James Alcock Robinson. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, they became a highly successful and well-known manufacturer of earthenware and china. The company owed a lot of its success to their richly decorated lustre wares with Art Deco and Oriental influences but in the 1930s they branched out into something different with an emphasis on bold block colours and flower and leaf motifs.

The new designs used the floral and foliage themes either to help form the shape of the piece for example vases, bowls and trefoil dishes or as striking, embossed decoration on items such as teapots, jugs and toast racks. These new tableware ranges were hand-painted and continued in production until the 1960s. They are sometimes referred to as Salad Ware or either Floral or Fruit embossed Carlton Ware, but are easily recognizable by their eye-catching colours and bold decoration; particularly impressive when brought together as a group.

The colours used during this period were very bright and again held with the floral, natural themes including yellow, green and pink. Many different patterns were produced, particularly popular include Buttercup, Foxglove and Apple Blossom as well as Water lilies, Anemone and the Fruit Basket.

There were over fifty different patterns produced during the thirty years of production. Many patterns were made in more than one colour, like Buttercup, which is common in yellow but rare and desirable in pink. Some patterns, like Apple Blossom, had a huge range of items produced while others, like Daisy, were limited to just a handful of pieces.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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Carlton Walking Ware

Carlton Ware was produced in a factory in Stoke from 1890 but it was a ceramics company that went through many ups and downs. Arthur Wood & Sons bought the company in 1967 and by the early 1970s it was in real difficulties. It could be said that Danka Napiorkowska and Roger Michell and their wonderful Walking Ware saved the company.

A Pair of Carlton Ware Pottery Vases, of globular form, painted and gilt with the Fantasia pattern with stylised swallows on a matt grey/blue ground. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery for £720 in 2013
A Pair of Carlton Ware Pottery Vases, of globular form, painted and gilt with the Fantasia pattern with stylised swallows on a matt grey/blue ground. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery for £720 in 2013

The first Walking Tea Set was designed and made in 1973 by Napiorkowska and Michell in their tiny private studio called Lustre Pottery in Malton. The idea saw two little legs added to all elements of a tea set with brightly coloured Mary Jane shoes (children’s shoes with one thin strap fastened with a button or buckle) and equally as vibrant socks. The first range of Walking Ware produced consisted of teapots, sugar bowl, milk jug, coffee or water jug, soup bowl, mug, salt, pepper, plate, biscuit -barrel and egg cup.

Vintage 1970s Carlton Ware Lustre eggcup
Vintage 1970s Carlton Ware Lustre eggcup

The success of Walking Ware was huge and often put down to its ability to capture the freedom and the sense of new found optimism of the 1970s. The success meant that Lustre Pottery couldn’t keep up with demand so it made an agreement with Carlton Ware that they would manufacture the wares. This simultaneously secured Walking Wares’ future and saved Carlton Ware from bankruptcy.

The Walking Ware range was quickly extended to include the RJS series; Running, Jumping and Standing Still and the Big Foot range with over-sized feet in polka dot socks. They became expert at meeting the high demands for these novelty items including producing one-offs such as the Queen’s Silver Jubilee kneeling mug and cups for both Charles and Diana following their marriage.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website