VICTORIAN FIREPLACE TILES FROM IRELAND
John use to have an Antique business in Ireland. A main feature of that store was antique cast iron fireplaces- he would find them in old houses, refurbish and sell. Some of these cast iron fireplaces were massive- but they all had a porcelain tile decorated side panel. John has saved many tiles from his store- they all came from fireplaces he worked on- all authentic-all antiques late 1800 or early 1900.
While old cast iron fireplaces are not common in American- exception my be in early east coast homes of a certain period. However they were and ares still a feature in English & Irish Homes.
Remember until independence in the 1900s, Ireland was part of England and all the potteries were found in England….most in the Stoke on Trent area of Staffordshire, England. Some tiles were and still are more valuable-due to the artist/designer, the potter, or the style and glazes used.
The pics above of those of a majolica art nouveau style tile c.1900 As you can see from the back- the soot stain is still present- also the back indicates a numbered tile which suggests manufacturer- which can add to the value of the tile. There is fine crackling of the glaze on the deep colored surface- another feature of these historical art pieces
I have posted a copy of an English site- one of the best sites I know of concerning these antique tiles- see box below. There are other sites online that sell these tiles-one in Uruguay…from these sites, you can see the value of these antiques- average costs range in $20 to $50 per tile- some from famous collectible manufacturers sell for much more. For one- Minton tile company had a designer, John Moyr Smith who not only designed gorgeous tiles of pattern, floral and geometrics but he also designed pictorial tiles and created multiple series. A series of 8 to 12 tiles with themes such as Early English History, Shakespeare, Nursery Rhymes, The bible, Fairy tales, Classical figures with Musical Instruments among others..same samples below…..
John Moyr-Smith (1839-1912) trained as an architect in Glasgow, but settled in London in 1867 and is best known as a prolific illustrator; his other tiles series include illustrations to the Bible and the works of contemporary authors such as Walter Scott and Tennyson. His Shakespeare series was made at a time when there was much interest in the revival of Shakespeare’s plays in authentic costume. Building on the tradition of antiquarian research in stage design established by J.P. Kemble in the 1820s and Charles Kean in the 1850s, the architect E.W. Godwin designed costumes for Shakespeare’s plays throughout the 1870s and 1880s; his designs were based on meticulous sketches in the British Museum and from scholarly publications, and were made for the actress Ellen Terry, with whom he lived from 1868, and the actor-manager Henry Irving.
The industrial production of tiles in the second half of the nineteenth century made them available for a wide range of domestic interiors. They became especially popular for the fireplace, where they would be set into a cast-iron frame forming a fireproof wall lining as well as a miniature picture gallery around the fire. The Victorian hearth was the focal point of the home and so printed tiles with literary subjects such as this were considered the most appropriate, being both morally improving and educational.-British Museum