According to Susan Ingham Padwee, “Prior to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, only two American manufacturers had apparently succeeded in establishing commercially viable potteries which produced decorated or ‘art’ tiles. English tile makers, eager to develop the vast potential of the virtually competition-free American market, produced lavish displays of their products at the exhibition” (4) The British exhibitors had two effects, the first of which was that “British fashion for tiled floors, walls and mantels flourished as Americans rediscovered the fireplace as a symbol of their colonial past, endeavoured to make their houses models of scientific sanitation, and strove to demonstrate their aesthetic sophistication” (4). Second, the lack of competition quickly disappeared, and by the early 1880s two dozen firms produced art tiles. One of them, the International Tile Company of Brooklyn, New York, founded in 1883, was unusual in that it was financed and largely staffed by Englishmen. “According to Fred H. Wilde, an English ceramist who worked for I.T.C tor about a year, 'all presses, dies, and speciaJ machinery were brought from England. Many of the workers (all department heads) were brought over, including a printer and engraver'" (5). Two advertisements in business periodicals provide the only information we have about the company's products:

Encaustic, Geometrical, Mosaic, and Plain Tile Pavements, For Entrance Halls, Corridors, Passages, Conservatories, Churches, Cemetery Chapels, Porches, Footpaths, Porticos, Verandas, etc. Also manufacturers of Majolica and Enamelled Tiies, White-glazed. Decorated-glazed, and Hand-painted Art Tiles, Architectural Enrichments, etc. for Hearths, Fireplaces, Stoves, Wall Linings, Dados, Bathrooms, Friezes, Skirtings, Inscriptions, Flower Boxes. Cabinetwork, etc., etc." ITC made sure to mention its British pedigree, "Architects' Designs carefully and skillfully carried out by competent workmen from Mintons and other leading firms in England. [5]

Although transfer tiles had great popularity in England, American manufacturers concentrated on relief tiles, “a result of their lower production costs and the success of the relief tiles manufactured by John Low's tile company in Massachusetts” (6). After the English owners sold the company to American investors, it probably ceased production of decorated tiles.

Single Tiles (Relief)

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Single Tiles (Transfer)

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Multiple Tiles

Miscellaneous

Bibliography

Padwee, Susan Ingham. “The International Tile Company.” Glazed Expressions [Journal of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society] 38 (1999): 4-7.


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Last modified 6 May 2013