Japanned blotter cover

Japanned blotter cover

Decorative Art

Our collections of locally made decorative objects are a testament to the skills of local craftsmen and women. Wolverhampton was a major centre of the English japanning industry, which was developed in the 18th century to provide cheaper alternatives to expensive imported oriental lacquer ware. The production period spanned from the 1760s when a factory was established at the Old Hall works, right up to the 1920s when Henry Loveridge’s Merridale works finally ceased production. We have hundreds of fine examples in the collection.

Steel jewellery hair comb

Steel jewellery hair comb

The collection includes many examples of cut steel jewellery manufactured in the area.  Wolverhampton steel workers, who had been making “toys” and buckles, found that their skills and equipment easily transferred to the production of fine jewellery. Intricate designs were shaped from soft steel and traditional jewellery cutting techniques were used to fashion gem-like steel studs. The studs were riveted onto a base plate and then polished to produce a finish that is often mistaken for marcasite.

Enamel snuff box in the shape of a bird

Enamel snuff box in the shape of a bird

We are fortunate to possess one of the finest collections of English painted enamels, the majority of which were locally made. Between 1929 and 1934 Mrs Kate Bantock presented almost a hundred enamels to the collection. Then in 1937 Gerald Mander gave financial support to purchase the Egan Mew Collection – Mew was one of the first serious collectors of English enamels. Finally, in 1966 following a local government re-organisation Bilston Museum and Art Gallery joined with Wolverhampton Arts and Museums service and a number of enamels collected by the Curator, L.E.Taylor, were added to the collection.

We also have collections of Fictile Ivories, Elkington Plate and Porcelain.

You can find out more about works in the decorative art collection by…

  • …trying a simple search using the search box at the top of the page – just put one or more words, key phrases or artist names into the search box
  • … clicking on one of the images below:
Elkington Plate

Elkington Plate

Enamels

Enamels

Japanned ware

Japanned ware

Fictile ivories

Fictile ivories

Porcelain

Porcelain

Steel jewellery

Steel jewellery