In 1765, Thomas Minton was born in Shrewsbury, England. After completing his education, he went to work at the Thomas Turner’s Caughley porcelain factory. The Minton family avidly collected English, French, Persian, and Oriental porcelain. Thomas Minton’s passion for pottery and porcelain led him to seek apprenticeships with Josiah Spode, Josiah Wedgwood, and John Adams. After spending several years working throughout England as an engraver, he decided to open a small porcelain factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England. In 1793, Thomas Minton partnered with William Pownall and Joseph Poulson and began building his factory.
The factory took three years to complete and did not begin producing pottery until 1796. Originally, Minton China decorated earthenware blanks with blue transfer designs. These designs were popular at the time and were sold in mass quantities to London retailers. Beginning in 1798, Thomas Minton began traveling throughout England in search of clay suitable for the production of fine porcelain. Once suitable clay was found in Cornwall, Minton began diversifying his product. London showrooms were soon filled with Minton’s creamware, transferware, stoneware, and hand-painted earthenware designs.
The name “Minton” quickly came to be known throughout England. In 1817, Thomas Minton took his sons, Herbert and Thomas, into partnership. Shortly after being made partner, Thomas Minton left his father’s factory in pursuit of becoming a priest. Herbert’s contribution to Minton China’s success was soon made apparent. Beginning in 1824, Minton expanded their tableware lines to include a number of vases, figurines, and ornamental wares. Their products became solely marketed to the decorative luxuries market. Minton’s earliest decorative pieces did not bear a backstamp. Generally, a Minton collector is hard-pressed to locate Minton’s first ornamental designs.
In 1836, Thomas Minton died, leaving the considerable wealth of Minton China to his son, Herbert. Before his father’s passing, Herbert Minton proved to be an invaluable addition to the company. His artistic vision, creativity, and business acumen led Minton China to the forefront of the industrial age. Records indicate that in 1858, Minton China employed more the 1500 people. During this time, the company began producing industrial tiles. During the Victorian period, hand-painted, industrial strength tiles became popular in manor homes, state homes, churches, and castles. Minton’s tiles were exquisitely decorated. Examples of Minton’s tile can be found in the United States Capitol building, both houses of Parliament, and Lichfield Cathedral.
Throughout its early history, Minton China produced designs that reflected traditional English tastes and decorating techniques. The company soon turned its eye to France’s popular ornamental rococo designs. During the 1840’s, Herbert Minton helped to create a modeling material that resembled parian porcelain. The light rococo colors and geometric forms beautifully accented Minton China’s porcelain discovery.
Herbert Minton retired in 1858 and left control of the Stoke-on-Trent factory to his nephew, Colin Minton Campbell. Soon after succeeding his uncle, Colin Minton Campbell was elected to Parliament. His national reputation led the Minton factory to new heights of success and set the stage for Minton to become an international leader in the market of tableware production and design. Minton China grew steadily under Colin Minton Campbell’s control.
In 1885, Colin Minton Campbell died. The Minton family retained control of the company and continued investing in new decorating techniques and production technologies. One reason for Minton’s success was its policy of adopting contemporary designs. In the 1920’s, Minton released several lines of Art Deco tableware, accessories, and decorative items. Despite the company’s financial health, Minton was unable to make it unscathed through the Great Depression. Economic shock waves were felt around the world as New York Stock Exchange prices plummeted. Times became tough for Minton and many other Staffordshire potters. Production cuts ensued as the market for luxury goods bottomed out. In 1939, Minton halted production of tableware because the company’s resources were needed to defend England against Nazi attack.
Although Minton stopped production to aid in the war effort, the company poised itself to take advantage of the post-war economic boom. In 1949, Minton released their most popular pattern, Haddon Hall . Minton China later joined with Royal Doulton, Ltd. They continue producing luxurious dinnerware and remain leaders in the market of tableware production and design. Replacements, Ltd. carries a number of Minton’s patterns, including Bellemeade , Ancestral, and Jasmine . Click here to see a complete list of the patterns that Replacements carries by this amazing company.