Trent Tile Company
6" x 6" "Thistle," circa 1905.
Part of a complete fireplace surround.
Tile Heritage Collection. Gift of Peter Cornelison and Anna Howe.

Trent Tile Company
Trenton, New Jersey

"The tilewright is afforded the greatest opportunity to produce effects in glazes and colors that are marvelously beautiful. All tile are placed in the kiln flat with the glazed surface uppermost. It is therefore apparent that any surface may be employed, modeled or plain. If the colored glaze be transparent, and the tile be placed in the kiln level, and the tile have a modeled surface, then the lights and shadows are perfect; if the tile be canted it gives a result in lights and shadows that awakens our surprise and admiration; indeed, the possibilities by manipulation in the placing of the tile in the kiln are unlimited."

Alfred Willson Lawshe, Trent Tile Co. January 1, 1905.

Trent Tile Company, founded in 1882, produced a wide variety of decorative embossed tiles in numerous glaze colors during the last two decades of the 19th century. The company's first designer was Isaac Broome, well recognized at the time for his modeling of the human figure, face and profile. He was followed by William Gallimore, a designer and modeler from England who also had a well-established reputation. Over the years the company's success paralleled the country's economy overall; the factory eventually closed in 1939. Today Trent tiles are among the most collectible, especially among the lovers of Victorian art tiles.

The "Thistle" tile illustrated here is one in a series of tiles designed to decorate the opening on a fireplace mantel. Most decorative tiles produced in the late 19th century were used for this purpose or as borders atop a tile wainscoting in bathrooms.

For an illustrated reproduction of the 1905 Trent Tile catalog, click on the link below
Historic Tile Catalogs for Sale.

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