- Style/technique: Floral Patent Impressed
- Manufacturer: Josiah Wedgwood & Sons
- Dimensions: 6" x 6"
- Date: circa 1883
Quite one of the most artistic tile designs ever
produced by Wedgwood in any technique, a floral design
with a decidedly impressionist feel to it and made by
very unusual techniques.This more complex example of
Patent Impressed tiles is most likely an early example
and very likely to have been designed by Lewis Day who is
recorded as having designed a few of the earlier Patent
Impressed tiles for Wedgwood.
Whilst tiles with stencilled slip decoration are
usually referred to as Patent Impressed this is not the
case, this tile however is truly a Patent Impressed tile
and there are two distinct types of impression. The shape
of the leaves is impreesed or indented into the tile
surface, this was done by putting templates, presumably
of cardboard as described in the patent, in to the press
before the dust clay was added and the press operated.
The background colours are also impressed, coloured clay
dust sprinkled in to the machine again before the
addition of the white dust clay and pressing. After
pressing the lighter green slip of the leaves and bright
white slip of the flowers have been applied through
stencils and the brown outline painted.
Stencilled slip tiles are often called Marsden's
Patent because many by Wedgwood are found with Patent
Impressed embossed verso and this has been understandably
taken to describe the stencilled slip process. Marsden
offered his patent to Wedgwood in 1880 and in 1881
production started with a specialist department being
established the following year. This stencilled process
however is not what the patent describes furthermore the
slips are clearly applied rather than impressed, it would
appear that the root cause of the misunderstanding is due
to Wedgwood's buying in policy. A misreading of the
patent not least by the author of the book in which the
patent is transcribed and described by the patentee of
the process George Marsden has compounded the error.
It is believed that Wedgwood bought most if not all of
their tile blanks from subcontractors and that blanks
made from green clay came from different manufacturers to
those from white clay. Green clay blanks being the most
often used for Patent Impressed were all embossed with
that legend however Wedgwood used such green clay banks
for tiles decoration by other processes, ordinary
stencilled slip such as this and also transfer prints.
The result being that many stencilled slip tiles which do
not use the patented process are found with Patent
Impressed embossed when they aren't and they
Wedgwood's specialist tile department lasted for only
six years 1882 - 1888 when it was closed. Tile making was
peripheral to Wedgwood's pottery and porcelain business
and by this date a century after the company's founding
it was run by accountants more concerned with the quality
of the financial bottom line than that of artistic merit
or skill. Tiles in this period may have been pressed by
Wedgwood but that is not a given, their specialist tile
department may have been a decorating department
A rare and intriguing tile, for a Patent Impressed
tile I am impressed at its unusual impressionist feel.
Most irritatingly, and quite exceptionally for a Patent
Impressed tile it has no pattern number on the back so we
can not for sure put it in to Wedgwood's sequence of
designs and timeline.
Verso fully marked Patent Impressed back with place
settings for feet to make a pot stand, this combination
only noted on white clay tiles.