A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Maw and Company Majolica Tiles

The tile firm of Maw & Co. was founded in 1850 when brothers George and Arthur Maw purchased a failing tile manufacturing firm in Worcester, G.B. The company specialty was in encaustic and mosaic tile manufacture. In 1852 in order to expand their business the company moved to a larger facility in Shropshire to the Benthall Works at Broseley where they could take advantage of the local supplies of clay and coal.

Maw & Co. factory buildings
Maw & Co. Benthall Works   Photo: David Stowell
Arthur Maw  Photo:©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Around 1862 the company expanded to include majolica tile among its products as well as transfer printed and and portrait tiles in the style of Email Ombrant. By 1883 the company had established itself as one of the largest tile manufactures in the Great  Britain, producing tiles for use across the globe. Maw also produced a small quantity of art pottery.

Maw art pottery Photo:© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Maw art pottery Photo: ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Maw art pottery Photo:©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Majolica designs from the 1867 catalog

Majolica and encaustic catalog pages

The company continued to expand and moved its location again to Jackfield. At the height of their production the Maw was producing in excess of 20 million tiles a year with clients that included the royal family of Russia, maharajas in India, several titled families throughout G.B., schools hospitals and cathedrals.

Old Library, Cardiff, Wales  Photo: Sion
By 1900 Maw & Co was the largest tile manufacturer in the world.

Whereas the bulk of the family business continued to be encaustic tiles their production of majolica tiles rival the quality of Minton and Wedgwood who were the company's main competitors. Like Minton, the bulk of their majolica tiles were of the tube-lined variety. Tube-lining is a process where liquid clay is squeezed from a tube onto the tile in a required pattern like the outline of a coloring book. The spaces between the lines are then filled with majolica glazes to create the finished tile.

c. 1880

However, the company also did molded majolica tiles in the style of the large majolica manufacturers where three dimensional surfaces were then glazed in different colors. These are among the most beautiful tiles created by Maw.

Designed by Charles Bevan  c.1870
c. 1870

c. 1870


Photo: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
c. 1885  Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum
Designer–Lewis Foreman Day c.1890 Photo: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Changing tastes affected the family business sales after WW1 and production slowly declined. In 1960 Maw merged with Campbell Tile and changed its name to Maw-Cambell Co. In 1968 the company became part of the H.R. Johnson Group. The company finally shut its doors in 1970 after 120 years in business.

In 2001 Maw and Co. reopened as a specialty company under new leadership and today manufactures reproduction tiles from the Victorian era.


  1. Could you tell me if there is an American tile maker that was producing similar works? I am familiar with the embossed glazed tiles of Trent, Beaver Falls, American Encaustic, U.S. Encaustic, etc. but none of those makers seem to have been producing what Minton, Wedgwood, and Maw were--embossed tiles with saturated majolica glazes--even though they were sometimes referred to as majolica tiles. Can you help me out here??

    1. To the best of my knowledge there were no American tile manufacturers who produced the quality of molded multicolor majolica tiles produced in Europe. The only possible exception may be Griffen & Miller Tile which was the tile manufacturing arm of the Etruscan Works of Phoenixville. Unfortunately not enough marked examples of the company's work have survived to make that determination.