Tile Company History
|Trent Tile Company 1882-1939
Located in Trenton, NJ, this company
started in 1882 as the Harris Manufacturing Company. By 1883 the name was
changed to Trent Tile Company.
In 1883, Quebec born Isaac Broome, a designer
and modeler, came to Trent to work. He was highly qualified, boasting 8
years of experience at the Ott and Brewer Pottery.
He left the company in 1886, but Trent was
able to keep producing new Broome designs after he left, because of the
amount he designed while he was there.
After Broome left, a man named William Wood
Gallimore, an artist and modeler, took his place.
In 1912, the factory had financial troubles,
and was bought by Thomas H. Thropp in 1916. Under his ownership, Trent produced
8 million square feet of tile each year. When Thropp died in 1931, his son,
H.W. Thropp took over.
R.P Herrold purchased Trent in 1936 with a
loan from the government. In 1939, the factory was once again in trouble,
and it closed down. In 1940, it was bought by Wenczel Tile Company.
Tiles from Trent “were used on fireplaces,
mantels, counter fronts, wainscoting, soda fountains, doorways, and as independent
art panels.”(Karlson) Trent tiles were available in 118 colors, and
Robertson Art Tile Co. 1890-1930
Robertson Art Tile was located is Morrisville,
Pennsylvania. It was started by a man named George W. Robertson, who began
his career as assistant manager at East Boston Pottery from 1865 to 1871,
moving to Chelsea Keramic Art Works after that. In 1890, he started his
own tile works in Pennsylvania, which he named Chelsea Keramic Art Tile
To pay his debts on the plant, he gave shares
to W. J.J. Bowman, R.K. Bowman, and Arthur D. Forst. Robertson became the
superintendent, Forst took the job as president, and Bowman became the treasurer.
At this point, they changed the name to Robertson Art Tile. Three years
after that, due to the death of his son, Robertson decided to sell his share
of the company, in 1895. Forst became manager. In 1900, a man named Fred
Wilde joined the company. He left in 1903, and a man named Herman Mueller
joined in that same year.
“Also in 1903, Robertson Art Tile merged
with Columbia Encaustic Tiling Company and Old Bridge Enameled Brick and
Tile Company to form the National Tile Company.”(Karlson) This only
lasted three years before decided to end the partnership and went back to
its original name. Mueller left the company in 1908, to form his own company
named Mueller Mosaic.
In 1920, Forst bought all of the shares to
the company ran it with his family. In 1930, the name of the company was
changed to Robertson Manufacturing Company, which closed in 1983.
The Old Bridge Tile Company 1890-1927
The Old Bridge Tile Company was located
in Old Bridge, New Jersey. It was founded by a man named William E. Rivers
in 1890. He was a ceramist and an inventor, who developed a machine called
the “Rivers Downdraft Periodic Kiln.” In 1893, the bank took
over the company, which was refinanced and renamed to The Old Bridge Enameled
Brick and Tile Company. In 1903, The Old Bridge
Tile Company merged with Robertson Art Tile and Columbia Encaustic Tiling
Company, to form the National Tile Company. After a year, Old Bridge backed
out and returned to its original name. When William Rivers died in 1917,
a man named Charles H. Devoe purchased his share and became the new superintendent.
In 1927, the Robert Rossman Corporation bought the company. Devoe stayed
for a year as manager. When he left he took the company name with him and
started his own business.
C. Pardee Works 1890-1928
The C. Pardee Works, located in Perth Amboy, NJ, was established
by a man named Calvin Pardee. Sometime around 1898, the factory closed,
but opened again in 1900, when Adolph and Max Metzner came to the factory.
They left in 1908 to begin a company of their own.
In 1919, the company bought the Grueby Faience and Tile Company. They moved
to Perth Amboy and continued to produce the Grueby tiles. In the 1920’s
they also imported Royal Delft Faience Tiles from Holland.
In 1929, Ario Pardee became president and agreed to sell tiles from the
Matawan Tile Company. This was called Pardee Matawan Tile Company. C. Pardee
Works closed in 1938.
American Encaustic Tiling Company (A.E.T.) 1875-1935
In 1874, a man named E.H. Hall began tile production under the
name of Fischer and Lansing in Zanesville, Ohio. American Encaustic Tiling
Company (A.E.T.) was founded in 1875. “The production of encaustic
tiles involves a complicated process in which powdered clays of different
colors are pressed together to form a pattern or design.”(Karlson)
In 1876, Hall left A.E.T, to be replaced by a man named Gilbert Elliot.
In 1877, George Stanberry became the superintendent, and produced a machine
that mass produced tiles like never before in America. Production increased,
and the factory moved to a bigger building. In 1880, A.E.T. began making
glazed tiles; embossed tiles came shortly after in 1881. A showroom was
built in New York City around this time.
Herman Mueller was hired in 1887, bringing with him many new techniques.
He “produced many large relief tiles, as well as panels of female
figures, mythological symbols, and portraits.”(Karlson) Renaissance
motifs influenced much of his work. “He also produced intaglio-modeled
tiles, portraits or scenes in which the design was carved into a tile, then
glazed. The glaze darkened in the more deeply carved areas; in the shallow
areas, the tones would be more delicate, giving certain tiles the appearance
of a photograph.”(Karlson) In 1890, a man named Karl Langenbeck, left
Rookwood Pottery to work with A.E.T. He introduced many new colors to the
company. Once again, the factory was too small, and A.E.T. moved to a new
plant, and was self proclaimed to be the largest tile factory in the entire
world. Mueller and Langenbeck left A.E.T to start their own factory called
the Mosaic Tile Company. A man named Christian Nielson replaced Mueller.
“In The 1890’s A.E.T. produced a series of at least eleven printed
decal tiles with designs by Walter Crane, taken directly from the original
plates of Baby’s Own Aesop Fables and Baby’s Own Opera, popular
children’s books of the era.”(Karlson) In 1913, Cecil Jones
began working at A.E.T, where he became the head of the decoration department.
He left in 1930. Frederick Hurten Rhead came in 1917, to be the head of
a research department. He created many new designs “including painted,
molded, and cuenca pieces, as well as some pottery.”(Karlson) He stopped
working at A.E.T. in 1927. Leon V. Solon was hired in 1912, and worked there
until 1925. In 1932, A.E.T. had some financial problems, and sold off two
of their factories. The original plant in Zanesville closed in 1935, which
was sold to the Shawnee Pottery Company. A company named Franklin Tile combined
with A.E.T. and kept their name. In the 1930’s, Franklin merged with
Olean Tiles, to create a company called American Franklin Olean Tiles, Inc.,
which sold all of the companies tiles. “In 1959, A.E.T acquired Olean
Tile and Murray Tile Company, and 1964 the whole consortium became the American
Olean Tile Company” or “A.O.”(Karlson) American Olean
merged with Dol Tile Corporation in 1995.
Moravian Pottery and Tile Works 1898- Present
Henry Chapman Mercer established the Moravian Pottery and Tile
Works in 1898, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He began producing tiles in
1899 at his family’s estate. In 1912, he moved to a bigger factory.
Mercer designed all of the tiles himself, taking his inspiration from Moravian
stove plates and also from medieval European tiles. Mercer’s tiles
were styled differently than others of his time. They were used all over
Mercer died in 1930, leaving the company to his partner, Frank Swain. Tile
production continued until Swain died in 1954, when he left the company
to his nephew. Raymond F. Buck bought the plant in 1956, and closed it in
1964. The plant was bought by the Bucks County Department of Parks and recreation
in 1967, and to this day it is open to the public as a museum.
Ohio Encaustic Tile Co. 1883-1886
The Ohio Encaustic Tile Company was located in Zanesville, Ohio.
It was founded by a man named Samuel Ebert in 1883. The owners of the company
had minimal tile making skills, so they hired a man named Henry Bagley.
He became discouraged because there were hardly any skilled workers at the
factory, and went back to his home in 1885. They closed in 1886. The Ohio
company never mastered the art of making encaustic tiles.
Hamilton Tile Works 1883-1901
This company began in Hamilton, Ohio in 1883. Adolf Metzner started
it with a man named Mr. Hatt. They didn’t have too much success, so
Mr. Hatt left that same year. After that, a man named Jacob Bieler became
Metzner’s partner. Soon after, they hired Robert Minton Taylor, who
stayed for a very short time. The name of the company was changed to Hamilton
Tile Works. In 1884, Dr. Wild became president of the company, and it was
revamped. In 1897, the tile company was once again reorganized. Two years
later however, it failed. It was bought by new owners, who renamed it the
Ohio Tile Company. Metzner went to work for another well known company,
the A.E.T., and then to C.Pardee in 1900.
Zanesville Majolica Co. 1882-1884
This company was located in Zanesville, Ohio. It was located next
to A.E.T. The tiles produced here were very detailed, and of extremely good
quality. In 1884, a fire broke out and destroyed the company. The building
was rebuilt, but tile production stopped. Tiles from this company are rare
Mosaic Tile Company 1894-1972
This company had two locations, one in Zanesville, Ohio, and another
was located in Matawan, New Jersey. Three men, Herman C. Mueller, Karl Langenbeck,
and William M. Shinnick founded it in 1894. The company began by making
square, octagon and hexagon buff tiles. The company opened the Mosaic Tile
Building in New York in 1901. Mueller and Langenbeck left the company in
1903. In 1907, Shinnick became manager. In 1918, a new type of tile, faience
tiles began to be produced. Harry Rhead supervised production. In 1923,
Rhead left to found his own company, the Standard Tile Company. In 1937,
Mosaic bought the General Tile Company, and kept its own name. In 1959,
Mosaic stopped producing faience tiles. In 1967, Mosaic Tile was bought
by the Marmon Group of Chicago, and production stopped. General Tile Company
closed in 1972.
Providential Tile Works 1886- 1913
Joseph Kirkham, James H. Robinson, and C. Lewis Whitehead established
this company in Trenton, NJ in 1886. Isaac Broome left Trent to come there
in 1886. He stayed until 1890, and the company was able to keep producing
his designs long after he left. In 1890, he was replaced by a man named
Scott Callowhill. Joseph Kirkham sold his share so he could open his own
company in Barberton, Ohio. In 1900, James Robinson sold out, which left
Whitehead alone. When he died, his wife bought the company. She planned
to operate the company, but that didn’t work out, and the company
was shut down after that.
Cambridge Art Tile Works 1886-1985
J.J.Busse, and his sons, John, Herman, Louis, and J. Henry, and
another man named Herman Binz began making tiles in J.J. Busse’s Brickyard
in Kentucky. This was named the Mount Casino Art Tile and Enameled Brick
Company. They established a second company, Cambridge Art Tile Works in
1887. Two years later, these two companies combined to create Cambridge
Tile Manufacturing Company. Two men named Ferdinand Mersman and Clement
J. Barnhorn joined Cambridge. Cambridge Tile took over the Wheatley Pottery
in 1927, and they renamed it the Wheatley Tile and Pottery Company. Still
in 1927, a company called Cambridge Wheatley Company was created, which
sold both types of tile. Cambridge Wheatley stopped production in 1936,
and Cambridge Tile Manufacturing Company kept its name. Cambridge continued
to make tiles until 1985, when they closed.
Rookwood Pottery 1880-1965
Maria Longworth Nichols established the Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati,
Ohio in 1880. Ferdinand Mersman, Albert R. Valentien were hired in 1881,
and Karl Langenbeck joined the firm in 1895. In 1885, Nichols remarried
after her first husband died, and she left the company to go on her honeymoon.
She retired in 1890. Rookwood began to produce tile with a matte glaze in
1902. One Year after that, they made tiles for the New York Subway system.
“Rookwood made tiles for mantels, wall panels, drinking fountains,
architectural reliefs for building exteriors, and accountrements for vaulted
ceilings.”(Karlson) William Taylor died in 1913, and he left his share
to the Cincinnati Museum. Maria Storer died in 1922. Rookwood had difficulties
in 1928, and their architectural tile department closed. In 1941, Harold
and Walter Schott and Lawrence Kyle bought the company. Sperti Incorporated
bought the company and production continued. James M. Smith took over in
1956, and in 1959, Herchede Hall Clock became the owner. They moved to Mississippi,
and the factory closed forever in 1967.
Sources Used To Create This Page:
Karlson, Norman. American Art Tile 1876-1941. New York: Michael
Friedman Publishing Group, Inc., 1998