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Martin Brothers Pottery

Heralding the height of new modernity in the wake of Victorian design’s decline, the Martin Brothers revolutionized pottery with their England-based stoneware. Known for their birds and streamlined palette, Martinware is among the most celebrated pottery to emerge from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Martin Brothers were four in total – Charles, Edwin, Robert, and Walter – who all had a passion for ceramic production. They opened their company, Martinware Pottery, in 1873 in Fulham, England. Martinware Pottery specialized in saltglaze pottery, which featured a varied finish that resembled the skin of an orange peel. This unique finish accentuated decorative designs in earthen shades ranging from gray to green.

Martinware's most popular design was the Wally Birds, stylized, hand-thrown vessels featuring bird-like creatures similar to the gargoyles of the Gothic age. Martinware continued to be in high demand until the early decades of the 20th century and is held in even higher esteem today.

Quick Facts

  • Part of the success of Martin Brothers was their efficient division of labor: Robert sculpted, Walter glazed, and Edwin decorated, while Charles served as the manager of the business
  • As a testament to the company’s success, Martin Brothers completed the chancel arch in the Church of Ayot Saint Peter in Hertfordshire, north of London
  • Martinware Wally Birds are highly valuable: a 2014 Woolley & Wallis auction included a sale of a Martinware bird jar and cover from 1899 for $143,883

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