Exhibit of the Month
Two-handled Commemorative Toast Mug
Maw & Co was a progressive and enlightened employer. All their workers contributed to a Benefit Club so that they would be paid if they became ill. As a gesture of respect and affection for their employers the Club commissioned two toast mugs, one for each of the Maw brothers, to be presented at the annual meeting of the Club in 1869. The club asked John Hornby Maw to help design the toast mugs and they were then manufactured and decorated by John Rose and Company, at the Coalport China Manufactory.
The inscription on the toast mugs shows the affection that was felt by the workers towards their employers. This suggests that Maw & Co. were good employers who treated their employees well.
The inscription on the inside of the lid reads:
Mr George and Mr Arthur Maw
Gentleman – in anticipation of this day’s entertainment, in addition to the many substantial proofs of generosity and concern which you have shown to those in your employ, a deep sense of the obligation we felt ourselves under to you induced us to consider in what way we could best mark our appreciation of your past and present munificence and honourable treatment, but we were almost at a loss to know in what form or by what means we could render a token of our unfeigned gratitude and respect. However it was resolved to offer a cup to each the acceptation of which we now solicit at your hands, and beg to assure you that, though they are so insignificant in themselves, yet they are accompanied with warmer sentiments of esteem than we can find words to express.
The Commemorative Toast Mug is on loan from the Maw Family and is on display at Jackfield Tile Museum.
Maw & Co.
In the 1840s the Maw family became interested in tile making. John Hornby Maw thought that the tile industry would be a good opportunity for his sons, George and Arthur, to invest in. It brought together their artistic interests and talents with their business and entrepreneurial skills.
In the autumn of 1849 John Hornby Maw bought the Encaustic Tile Works in Worcester. The Maws moved to Worcester and took over the remnants of the works which had been established by the Worcester Porcelain Company.
In 1852 the Maw family and their workforce moved to Broseley in the Ironbridge Gorge having been attracted by the good-quality, cheap, local clay. There they established the Benthall Encaustic Tile and Majolica Works. By the 1870s Maw & Co was supplying tiles for buildings all over the British Empire and beyond.
In May 1883 the firm moved into a new purpose-built factory at Jackfield (now Maws Craft Centre). It was the largest tile works in the world.