The Hizen Vase, Part 1: Discovery

The Minton company records here on the site are part of the archive collection of Royal Doulton plc – a collection which preserves the records of more than twenty companies in total. Behind the scenes we’ve been arranging and fitting this entire archive on our shelves, a process which can throw up surprises… and the odd mystery too.

One such mystery is the “Hizen Vase” folio. When we first discovered this folder of designs it wasn’t immediately clear which company they belonged to, though the style of the folio itself was similar to ones we’d previously seen in the Art and Design section of the Minton company records. The contents of the folio were also very intriguing, comprising two sets of numbered illustrations, some extras marked “not for use in the Hizen vase” and a page of border designs which also included a small sketch of the vase shape. A small number of these illustrations had also been given an MS number, the system used during the cataloguing of the Minton company portion of the archive.

On closer inspection it seemed that the illustrations in each set had been designed to overlap in some way – though no information about this was present in the folio – and the outline shapes in one set were mirrored in the other, as if they had been drawn for a matching pair of objects.


With no other references to “Hizen” to be found in the Minton company catalogue (that’s not to say it doesn’t occur within the text of one of the many volumes in the collection, for example) the vase remains a bit of an enigma for now, though we’re keen to see if our theory regarding the overlapping of the illustrations is correct. You’ll have to wait for part two to find out if we’ve solved that particular puzzle however!

In the meantime you can view the full Hizen Vase folio in its new home within the Minton company catalogue.