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Decorative Tiles illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

Tile of Braying Ass picture from Caldecott's illustration for John Gilpin An 8 inch square tile on a Minton's blank, with "Braying Ass" scene, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, from the "John Gilpin" Picture Book.  
(Our thanks to a former owner, who kindly provided this picture.)

Another version of this same picture, but on a 6 inch Minton tile blank, is one of a set of five illustrations from this book.  Two other pictures were each spread across three tiles, and two further illustrations appeared on other single tiles.  9 tiles in all.

Decorative tiles were popular in Victorian times, and tiles based on Randolph Caldecott's illustrations were used in children's wards of hospitals as well as in private homes.  However, relatively few have survived, and the occasional ones in good condition which are offered for sale can fetch much higher prices than the books on which they are based.

An excellent article about these tiles, by Anne Harris, was published in Glazed Expressions , the magazine of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, Winter 1989-90.  We reprinted it (with their kind permission) in our own magazine, The Caldecott Sketch, in Spring 2004.  A few copies of this issue are still available, but only to members of the Society.  For Copyright reasons we are unable to publish the material on this website.

For further reading

Our Research Officer recommends these books about illustrations on tiles:
The Decorated Tile 
An Illustrated History of English Tile-Making and Design. By J and B Austwick. Publisher - Pitman House, First Published 1980.
Collecting Victorian Tiles - By Terence A. Lockett. Publisher - Antique Collectors' Club. Reprinted 1982, 1984, 1994.
20th Century Tiles - Shire Album by Hans van Lemmen and Published by Shire Publications Ltd., Chris Blanchett
Brightening the Long Days 
Hospital Tile Pictures.  Published by Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, 1987 - by John Greene.
This delightful book describes how tiling was thought to be, not only more hygienic than paint on Childrens' wards, but that the subjects, such as well known Nursery Rhyme Characters, would distract the children from thoughts of home-sickness or Pain.
Victorian Tiles: Shire Album No. 67
Tiles: A Collector's Guide by Hans Van Lemmen.
Tiled Furniture  Shire Album
The Tiles in The Vyne.  A most interesting publication by Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society .


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