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Carlton Ware’s Earliest Ranges & A Preview of Upcoming Carlton Ware Pieces at Auction

Debbie Porter

One of the many iconic manufacturers within the locality of the Potteries, Carlton Ware – originally Wiltshaw & Robinsons – endured for many years. They produced a wide variety of popular ranges and patterns from the company’s inception in 1890.

A fantastic and large collection of Carlton Ware items was recently consigned with Potteries Auctions and will be featuring in several upcoming Fine Art auctions this year. The collection boasts a great number of pieces in a variety of designs and patterns, including a fabulous array of vases, teapots, jugs, plates and assorted tableware items.

Carlton Ware footed vases

To be featured in our March Fine Art auction, this pair of footed vases boast raised gold decoration. They’re estimated at £100-£200.

Although Carlton Ware might be best known for its decorative and gift wares, such as the iconic Guinness Toucan, there were many other types of wares produced through the years. These comprised their own diversity of patterns, many examples of which are included in this collection. Many of the pieces we’ll be featuring are early examples, and so belong to ranges of earthenware that were produced from the very beginning of the company’s history.

One of the most prevalent ranges, Blush Ware, was introduced around 1890. It is easily recognisable for its combination of floral depictions – either printed or produced freehand – upon subtle pastel-shaded backgrounds. Pieces belonging to this range of earthenware encompass a huge diversity of shapes, as well as a plethora of individual patterns, with many displaying gilded decoration.

A gilded pair of Carlton Blush Ware vases in the Anemone pattern

Belonging to the Blush Ware range, this circa 1900 gilded pair of vases appear to be an earlier Anemone pattern. They will be featuring in our March Fine Art auction, with an estimate of £50-£100.

As an appendage to Blush Ware, Blue & White used the same shapes and patterns to produce monochrome blue versions, which also often boasted gilt features. A number of pieces belonging to this range will also be featuring in future Fine Art auctions, beginning with the March sale.

A Carlton Ware Blue & White gilded teapot in the Poppy design

The trademark stamps on this Blue & White gilded teapot in the Poppy design attribute the shape as having been registered in 1890, with the pattern registered later the same year. With an estimate of £40-£80, this piece will be featuring later this year, in our November Fine Art auction.

Determining the age of an item can often prove challenging. While sometimes it can be readily apparent, our expert valuers rely on their keen eyes and depth of knowledge to ascertain the age and authenticity of a piece. An additional aid with Carlton Ware pieces is that many feature registered trademark numbers to their bases. These can assist in attributing the age of an item, as the six-digit numbers can be linked to the year it was registered in.

Through the company’s history, a number of different backstamps were used – these are also useful in identifying pieces, giving a good indication of what period they might have been produced in. To learn more about Carlton Ware backstamps, check out this article here.

A Carltonware metal mounted tea for one service

This lovely metal mounted tea for one service will be featured in our March Fine Art auction, with an estimate of £50-£100.

As well as reproducing pre-existing patterns in their Blue & White

Among the most popular ranges produced is Best Ware, with examples from this high-end range being particularly sought-after. Stylistically, Best Ware pieces boast colourful, elaborate patterns, using a variety of techniques, including underglaze painting, onglaze enamels and lustres, as well as raised enamelling and gold printing.

Achieving the high standard of finishes naturally required skilled work. For this, the company drew upon the expertise of designers such as Horace Wain and Violet Elmer. Wain was particularly known for his chinoiserie designs and ethnic patterns, while Elmer incorporated a notably Art Deco aspect into her designs. Both are considered leading designers of their age.

Selling Carlton Ware at Auction

Do you have Carlton Ware items to sell? Our team of experts can value your items. Valuation days are held every Tuesday at our Silverdale showroom. To book an appointment, please call 01782 638100 or email If, however, you are unable to attend a valuation in-person, we also provide valuations via WhatsApp – simply send photographs of your items to 07864 667940, or you can also message us on Facebook. We can even arrange for home visits to value your items.