Histories of UK potters and pottery manufacturers

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© Michael Perry 2011. Contact

Image courtesy of Lema Publishing Ltd, publishers of ‘Tableware International’ www.tablewareinternational.com

Last updated: 1st August 2011


1896–1967 (Inc. 1963)

Manufacturer of bone china and earthenware at the Empire Works, Stoke Rd, Stoke-on-Trent from about 1896.

I have not been able to identify the founders of the business, but following the Second World War, the business was owned by Lazarus & Rosenfeld Ltd a European ceramics group and founders of the Victoria Porcelain Factory at Altrouhlau, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic). The pottery was acquired in 1951 by H. Kaufmann Ltd, a Suffolk-based manufacturer of lawnmowers, and by the Qualcast Group in 1958 as a result of its takeover of the Kaufmann Group. Empire Porcelain Co. Ltd was incorporated (1963) as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Qualcast Group. The business ceased to operate in mid-1967 despite full order books, because it proved too difficult to effectively modernise the Empire Works.

The Empire Porcelain Co Ltd was an important producer of domestic and ornamental earthenware and china for the middle of the market. In the late-1920s and 1930s the company produced interesting art deco-style tablewares and notable art deco ornamental wares decorated using the drip glaze technique. Chinz-decorated wares were produced in the 1940 and 1950s. China novelties and cottage models are other factory wares that are now of interest to collectors.

The company used the ‘Empire Ware’ and ‘Shelton Ivory’ trade names and these appear on most wares from the 1920s and 1930s in addition to the word ‘Empire’ or the full company name. The Empire ornamental wares, in particular, are little known and under-appreciated.

© Mike Perry 2010

Empire Ware

A decorative Empire Ware demitasse coffee cup and saucer from the 1930s.

Image: © Michael Perry 2010