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Carlton Ware or Carltonware

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Established in 1890 by James Frederick Wiltshaw, William Herbert Robinson and James Alcock Robinson, the company, trading under the name of ‘Wiltshaw and Robinson, manufactured a huge range of earthenware and china at their Copeland Street works in Stoke-on-Trent, England for almost 100 years.

In 1894, the trademark ‘Carlton Ware’ was introduced and the factory was renamed as the Carlton Works.

In 1911 the business partnership between Wiltshaw and the Robinsons was dissolved, and Wiltshaw formed a new company named Wiltshaw and Robinson Limited. However, in 1918, James Wiltshaw met an untimely end to his life in a railway accident and the business passed down to his son Frederick Cuthbert Wiltshaw.

By 1930 the company had expanded and, in doing so, had acquired china and Savoy heraldic china manufacturers Birks, Rawlins and Co.

In 1952 Wiltshaw’s wife Alice was murdered during a robbery at the couple’s large home at Barlaston, Staffordshire. Leslie Green, a once chauffeur for the family, was convicted of Alice’s murder and hanged at Winson Green Prison by the notorious hangman Albert Pierrepoint.

Six years later in 1959, the company was renamed as Carlton Ware Limited and, following the death of Frederick Cuthbert Wiltshaw some time later in 1966 and subsequent liquidation in 1967, the company was sold to Arthur Wood and Sons.

The company continued to trade well under Arthur Wood and Sons until developing serious financial problems in the late 1980s, and was forced into receivership in 1989.

Grosvenor Ceramic Hardware attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue the company but production finally ended in 1992.

In 1997 the Carlton Ware brand was revived by Francis Joseph of the Carlton Ware Design Centre in Stoke-on-Trent and it continues to make novelty items for the collectors’ market.

Types of Carlton Ware

Blush Ware

This name describes the subtle pastel shaded backgrounds to patterns, on often high quality wares, that were either printed or freehand in the Art Nouveau style.






Blue & White

The Carlton Ware pottery utilized the same shapes and pattern prints as used on blush ware to produce monochrome decorations such as Blue & White and Flow Blue.






Heraldic China

Following WH Goss’s lead in the production of Heraldic Souvenir China, Wiltshaw and Robinson introduced their own models circa 1903.

The range of manufactured miniatures continued into the 1920s and models encompassed ancient museum artifacts,entertaining and humorous, Suffragettes, transport, inventions, seaside and popular songs. The First World war also inspired many models of a military nature too.

Best Ware

More highly decorated wares, often with elaborate printed and enamelled patterns were branded Best Ware and often patterns were underglaze painted in addition to onglaze enamels, lustres, gold printing and raised enamelling. The most popular being Chinoiserie patterns such as MIKADO, TEMPLE and CHINALAND.

Arguably, some of the better Best Ware is from the Art Deco era with patterns such as FAN, BELL and JAZZ and it is unlikely that these patterns will be created again, due to high production costs and lack of expertise.


A sub-category of Best Ware, Handcraft was introduce in 1928 in response to the freehand painted decoration fashion present at the time and to compete with potteries and designers such as Poole, Grays, Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff.

Salad Ware

Divided into Floral Embossed and Fruit Embossed, Salad Ware was named as such due to the popularity and longevity (more than 50 years) of the Lettuce and Tomato design.

Other designs included Apple Blossom, Foxglove, Buttercup and Wild Rose and more.

Salad Ware’s considerable popularity generated the revenue that enabled the extravagances of the highly original and expensive Best Ware patterns.

Coloured Ware / Novelty Wares

Coloured Ware was the name applied to a range of, often humerous, low cost novelty wares manufactured in the 1920s.

Carlton China

Wiltshaw and Robinson acquired Vine Pottery, previous china works of Birks Rawlins & Co, and diversified into china. They expanded on Birks, Rawlins & Co’s patterns by introducing modern designs.

Advertising Ware

Match holders and strikers for Bryant & May and Burton Ale, John Haig & Sons ashtrays and water jugs, Arthur Guinness, Son & Co. (especially with a range or bar ornaments), vintage cars made for the British Motor Corporation and British Leyland, Cadbury’s, Harrods and even Singapore Airlines were among Wiltshaw and Robinsons prestigious list of clients.

Contemporary Ware – 1950s & 60s

Scandinavian inspired Carlton Ware comprising fluid and freeform shapes.  Examples include Windswept, a range of tea ware and table ware, and The Triform and Shelf ranges utilised the fashionable fluid shapes of the time.

Early Woods Period 1968-1974

Following the death of Cuthbert Wiltshaw, Carlton Ware was bought by Arthur Wood & Sons. Best Ware patterns were discontinued and replaced by less costly lithographic decorations.

New Salad ware lines were introduced and some existing models were revamped, less expensive wares, such as coffee sets in plain colours were continued and gift ware remained important. The vibrancy of the 60s was represented by range of money boxes with psychedelic lithographic decorations.

Walking Ware Period  c.1974 – 1986

See sources of information below for link.


c.1890 to 1893

c.1894 to 1926

c.1920 to 1926

c.1903 to 1926 (Heraldic China)


c.1926 to 1987

c.1928 to 1932

c.1969 to 1989
c.1974 to 1987

Sources of information:
Carlton Ware World

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