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Carlton Ware was established in 1890 at Copeland street, Stoke-on-Trent, the new company was formed via a partnership between James Frederick Wiltshaw and W.H and J.A Robinson from which the company name was formed Wiltshaw and Robinson, and they named their factory the Carlton Works, in 1894 they added the trade name of Carlton Ware to the swallow seen on the backstamp to create a new trade mark. This was a circular mark topped with a crown carrying their initials W&R and also Stoke on Trent around the perimeter with the words Carlton Ware below and the swallow flying in the centre.
This partnership continued until april 1911 following a split at the company, this left James Wiltshaw as the sole proprietor. A new limited company was registered in november 1911, and was now known as Wiltshaw and Robinson Limited, The company was revived and forged ahead with a new designer, Horace Wain who produced new designs, colours and shapes . James Wiltshaw was killed in a accident in 1918, on Stoke on Trent railway station Frederick Cuthbert Wiltshaw then took over the company ( James Wiltshaws Son ). Yet more patterns were produced and The company was tradingvery successfully when in 1930 it brought out the firm of Birks, Rawlins and Co, to expand on Carltons china production. In 1958 Wiltshaw and Robinson was renamed Carlton Ware Limited, with Cuthbert Wiltshaw as governing director but in 1967 the company was then taken over by Arthur Wood and Sons. The company continued to enjoy much success, but in the late eighties the company floundered and, went into receivership in 1989, an attempt was made by Grosvenor Ceramic hardware, but it was a lost cause and production was finally halted in 1992. The factory still stands today and the name of Carlton can still be seen high on the skyline, that is until the developers move in.
There is a wide range and variety that Carlton produced from the early lustre wares that were produced in a wide variety of colours and designs all gilded in deep rich glazes these pieces mainly take the form of vase's, bowls and ginger jars being the most common, pot pourii holders are also common. Bone china crested
ware was also produced from an early age with some items dating back to when the line was introduced in 1902, this range was very successful and was aimed as competition with Goss china, it did carry a slightly different back stamp showing the words Carlton China.
In the fifties other fun items were produced such as promotional wares most notably for Guinness (principally in the format of the toucan), but the most popular range was the salad ware this enjoyed success from the late twenties right through until the mid seventies and principally took the form of bright red lobsters or tomatoes.
Even greater popularity was achieved with the floral embossed range and this range is the most popular with the majority of Carlton collectors, it encompasses bright colours with embossed shapes of many flowers and plants such as Foxglove, Primula, Wild Rose and Apple blossom.
Into the 1950s and 1960s the designs tended to become more subtle with mainly two tone colours as befitted the period even the wild flowers from the earlier ranges changed into more exotic forms such as orchids.
The factories final big success was the Walking Ware range this was basically a tea set on legs and proved to be very popular before the ultimate decline of Carlton Ware.
Collecting Carlton Ware is comparatively easy as The Carlton Works were industrious with there output which spans 100 years, so many pieces are easily available, they can be obtained at most antique fairs and there is a trend for art deco fairs, these fairs are rising in popularity and are a good source of Carlton ware. Carlton Ware collecting is still in its infancy so therefore prices of Carlton are still very reasonable and can even be picked up at car boot sales, flea markets and second hand junk shops, but pieces turning up at these sources are becoming rarer but they are still available and they do turn up occasionally, another recent trend are art deco auctions with all of the major auction houses holding art deco auctions, bearing the above in mind it is therefore probably prudent to just collect perfect pieces as you are still in a position to pick and choose. Prices vary from just a few pounds to hundreds depending upon the rarity
value of the piece, pink buttercup being a example, teapots also seem to fetch higher prices, more is becoming understood and documented about Carlton Ware and thus the collector is in a very good position to be able to date and identify pieces, some of the pieces even follow world events such as the discovery of Tutenkhamens tomb which lead to an increase in popularity for all things Egyptian, to which Carlton responded with a range with Egyptian motifs in 1922.
An eye must be kept out for the possibility of forgeries in the main Carlton has not been a target for the forger (as yet) but examples of forgeries are beginning to turn up primarily of the Guinness promotional pieces, they are comparatively crude when placed next too the real thing, but on there own they have been catching professionals at auction houses so be aware and do not touch anything that you have any suspicions about.
Thanks to Keith and Helen at the Carlton ware collectors club.