by Jeannie Swales
This pretty little tea set looks at first glance as though it bears the famous Willow pattern.
Closer inspection shows, however, that it’s actually decorated with what appears to be a very English scene – a thatched country cottage, stone bridge, and garlands of wild roses and hops, all in a deep pinky-brown on cream.
It bears the stamp of a collared greyhound sitting atop a scroll with the letters ‘E.M & Co’, and with the letter ‘B’ below it – which means it was made by Edge Malkin & Co of Burslem, Staffordshire, and can therefore be dated fairly accurately to between 1871 and 1903. The pattern is called ‘Lisbon’ – so perhaps that rural scene is not so English after all.
The Malkin and Edge families were, individually, very successful manufacturers of pottery, earthenware and tiles in the area still known as The Potteries – that area of Stoke-on-Trent where the UK ceramics industry is concentrated. You can still find famous names such as Wedgwood, Portmeiron, Aynsley and Moorcroft there to this day.
The founder of Edge Malkin & Co was Joseph Edge, who in the 1840s went into business with one Benjamin Cork, as Cork and Edge. In 1860, they were joined by Mr Malkin, and for a decade or so the company traded as Cork, Edge & Malkin. By 1871, it had become just Edge & Malkin.
Interestingly, the company also seemed to trade under the name of Malkin, Edge & Co, with this variation on the name cropping up more often in connection with tiles – ‘encaustic and geometric tile pavements for churches, entrance halls, conservatories, wall decorations &c, also, white glazed tiles for baths, dairies, etc’.
An advert from the 1870s tell us that it is ‘prepared to Grant Licenses for the Use of the Encaustic Tile Process’, with an extract from a Report of the Commissioners of the London International Exhibition of 1871 as follows:
“This Patent Encaustic Tile Press, and the operation in making and inlaying the different colours in the Encaustic Tiles from pulverised clay, for all kind of pavement, is very ingenious and complete. This is certainly a great improvement upon the old method of making with clay in a plastic state; it is also a great saving in labour.”
But despite its technological innovations, Edge Malkin & Co was not to last long – by 1904, the company was trading as SW Dean, and that only until 1910.
The tea set is part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects and artwork owned by the borough.
For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org or 01723 384510.