Anniversary Update: 531 Tile Designs

On the 25th September 2015 we officially launched the Minton Archive website with a little over 25 digital records, a handful of images, and a smattering of words on the blog… and now the whole kit and caboodle is six years old! As is now customary we’re celebrating this happy occasion with a special catalogue update, which means from today you can now virtually flick through a volume of tile designs that has been hiding in plain sight until very recently…

A quick tip of the hat to our previous anniversary updates before we get started though – there was our first, where we released 1000 images into the wild; the second, where we made volumes available to browse online; the third, which connected a series of sketchbooks to an exhibition of Minton Secessionist Ware; the fourth, where we made the Dresser Folio explorable online; and a slightly disrupted fifth, where we released a company timeline and made an important Kensington Studio volume and a collection of Exhibition Estimate Books available on the site.

For this year’s anniversary update we’re releasing SD 1705/MS1842 as a fully-browsable item – a volume (of sorts!) containing 531* tile, plaque, and slab designs that does much to enhance the archive’s relatively small selection of tile-related material. Each design is annotated with a reference number which we’ve transcribed and added to the item’s catalogue record; we’ve also done the same for the 1350(!) designs found in SD 1705/MS1367, a relatively complete tile catalogue that we previously featured on the blog after it was also digitised in full. More on the thinking behind that below – for now why not jump straight in and explore these wonderful designs for yourself:

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This volume has certainly seen better days, being completely disbound and also lacking a spine and covers – places where we might’ve hoped to have found some information related to its purpose or usage at Minton. Checking a small sample of the design reference numbers against the MS1367 tile catalogue did yield the occasional match however, and so after two (rather involved!) sets of transcription we were able to cross-reference them both and identify 310 common designs across the two items – a little over half the total number in MS1842. Both of these transcriptions are now included within their respective records which we hope will make it easier to use these connected resources: for example, if you spot a design in the tile catalogue you should now be able to quickly check whether a larger, clearer version exists in this volume, or when browsing the pattern volume easily find out if the tile catalogue contains any extra information for a particular tile series you’ve found, as in the example below.

“Thomson’s Seasons” as represented in MS1842, with digitally overlaid description from MS1367.
(This isn’t the first time we’ve referenced the Seasons series on the blog either…)

As the digitisation of MS1842 occurred during our continuing work within the Art & Design folio records (see our most recent catalogue update for more info on how that’s going) it would be remiss of us not to cast our cross-referencing net into that area of the collection too. However, it turns out we’d inadvertently started this process a long time ago as part of our Pairing Up series, where in two instalments we compared designs from the then newly-digitised tile catalogue to the original artworks found in the folios. As of today we can now also connect these to the volume we’ve just released: from Pairing Up Part 6 you’ll find “Fables” (1897), “Scenes in the Hunting Field” (1898), “Signs of the Zodiac” (1762), and “Days of the Week” (1759), and from Pairing Up Part 7 there’s Moyr Smith’s “Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man” (1900) and “Tennyson’s Idylls of the King” (1523), as well as “Village Life” (1801).

As always you can find this latest volume alongside all our other fully-browsable items via the Page by Page themed search, accessible from the Explore menu; if you happen to be browsing the online catalogue the appearance of the “Interactive” tab in the catalogue’s record view is also a good indicator that there’s extra functionality to be had!

* There are actually 552 design reference numbers in the volume, but 21 of these don’t have a matching design.