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c1870 Encaustic English Tile by William Godwin, Lugwardine, Hereford
Antique early pressed encaustic floor tile by the William Godwin Company of Lugwardine, Hereford, England (see all photos). This tile is inlaid with yellow, dark chocolate brown and orange brown clays. The back of the tile is stamped with the following legend: W. Godwin, Lugwardine, Hereford. The Godwin tile company of Lugwardine was among the more notable English makers of encaustic floor tiles and many of their tiles were used in churches and public buildings in the mid to late 1800s. William and his younger brother Henry began manufacturing encaustic tiles at Lugwardine, Hereford in 1852. William had previously produced bricks at Lugwardine before his brother joined him in their new venture. Henry had prior experience with making tiles at Worcester for Maw and Co. The new joint venture was successful and the multicolored and pressed heavy floor tiles appealed to architects renovating older churches since the tiles closely mimicked the original medieval inlaid tiles. The tile for sale here weights 16 ounces (one pound or nearly 0.5 kg).
The Godwin factory produced medieval style tiles with more of a genuine historical feel than those mass produced at Minton and elsewhere. And for this reason, Godwin's tiles achieved great popularity among architects restoring churches and other old public buildings. In 1858, William & Henry Godwin produced encaustic and mosaic tiles; bricks, draining tiles and pipes, and a reportedly 850,000 bricks per year. In the 1860s, the Godwin brothers continued to experiment with more mechanical means of tile production and shifted to dust-pressed tiles. This process involved drying clay to about 8% moisture content and then shaving it into a powder or `dust'. The clay dust was then compacted in a steel die using a hand-powered screw press and the tile subsequently dried and fired in a kiln. In the late 1860s, the hand powered screw press was replaced by a steam operated pressed.
Dust-pressing for tiles had been first perfected for making wall and plain floor tiles in the mid 1840s after Richard Prosser acquired a patent for the process in 1842. Much later, the Godwins collaborated with William Boulton, a manufacturer of mechanical presses to develop a better process for pressing multicolored floor tiles using clay dust. In 1868, Boulton patented the first machines able to produce good quality dust-pressed encaustic tiles. Boulton's process was complicated and required individually designed brass plates for each color. The Godwins acquired Boulton's new presses and soon were able to produce tiles with as many as eight different clay colors. In 1870, William and Henry Godwin ended their joint partnership. The Godwin tile works went out of business in 1906 after which the buildings were sold to G H Lloyd and Thomas Pulling. Godwin tiles are in many buildings and churches and the chancel at Pencombe church is a good example.
Additional Historical Notes:
In 1835, Samuel Wright, a merchant from Stoke-on-Trent who specialized in selling Zaffer experimented in making reproductions of medieval encaustic tiles using plaster and metal molds. Zaffer is a cobalt ore used by potteries to make intense blues. Wright soon sold the rights to his tile patent to both Chamberlain & Company of Worcester and Herbert Minton in Stoke in equal shares. Chamberlain & Co. started producing tiles immediately, whereas Minton sought to refine the tile process even further. Minton constructed a special small kiln and continued to experiment. His results were unsatisfactory and he found that the local clay from the Stoke region shrank too much upon firing which caused the inlaid pattern top pull away from the main body of the tile. Minton did not give up and by 1842 he had solved the major problems and supplied tiles for the Temple Church in London under his first major commission. Minton collaborated on the project with the architect, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin who was also concurrently overseeing work on the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) in London. Pugin was so impressed that he subsequently ordered Minton tiles for his Westminster work as well as many other prestigious projects he completed both in England and abroad.
And so if you are looking for an antique encaustic tile in warm earth tones that makes a nice accent among nearly any period or style, then do make sure you seriously consider purchasing this tile while it is still available. And as always, this Godwin tile also comes with my Docs Antiques `no fault' satisfaction guarantee or you may return it using my return policy for a refund.
SIZE: This tile measures 4 1/8 inches by 4 1/8 inches by 3/4 inches thick (or 10.5 cm a side by 2 cm thick). It weighs about 1 lbs (16 ounces) all by itself and can stand on its side should one wish to display it that way.
CONDITION: This tile is in very good condition with just two minor corner surface nicks that are so small that one does not readily notice them at all. The tile also has NO hairlines, NO stains, NO repairs and NO restorations. A blue pen points to the largest of the small nicks. Beyond that, then tile has no deep scratches although it has some wear from being walked on for more than 130 years. A nice tile that displays well and if the buyer is not completely satisfied, then she/he may return the tile for a refund (see our refund policy noted below).
SHIPPING: All mainland US buyers pay just $9.50 for well packed, insured USPS Standard Post shipping (this is an estimated savings of about $1 to $2 since insurance & tracking are also INCLUDED in the above quoted amount for all mainland US addresses). A faster shipping method is also available (see shipping options menu for USPS Priority mail). Docs Antiques never charges more than it actually costs to ship the item to you and we will refund any excess should you live near us. All international buyers will pay only the exact shipping costs for all verifiable locations outside the continental US mainland. Please note that import duties, taxes and other charges are not included in the item price or shipping costs and these additional charges are the Buyer's responsibility. We do offer a petition for VAT relief on the behalf of the buyer which may help reduce certain import taxes should your country allow such petitions for items over 100 years old. Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to purchasing this item -- thanks.
RETURN POLICY: Satisfaction and peace of mind are guaranteed for all Docs Antiques listings -- please refer directly to our Service Pledge and our Return Policy for full details. And this means that if you are unhappy with your purchase, then you may return the item undamaged by sending it back post marked within seven days of receipt for a refund (see terms of sale for full details). Items damaged during shipping are covered by insurance and while this rarely happens because we double box, we will gladly help you file your claim should it ever be necessary (to date, we have had only two claims for damage from shipping in over 7 years). Of course, never send an item back that was damaged by shipping since that will void the original insurance. Instead, contact us for help and we will gladly assist.
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