Register of Ceramic Designs 1884-1900

In the 19th century, there were two important acts of parliament relating to the registration of the copyright in decorative designs. The first was Copyright of Designs Act 1842, which set up the Board of Trade Designs Office in London. The records generated by that office have been widely used, listed and quoted by ceramic historians, and their accessibility, at The National Archives (TNA), has been the subject of several articles in NCS Newsletters by David Beaton, see particularly Newsletters 97 and 170.

That Act was replaced by The Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Act, 1883, which started a new registration system, including a new sequence of registered design numbers, from January 1884. David Beaton has commented that “as a collector and student of ceramics I had long been frustrated by the absence of ready reference for the designs registered after 1883. Many potters continued to omit their names when marking pots necessitating frequent return trips to the records at TNA, Kew.” Consequently, he devoted several months of intensive study at Kew, collecting information, and has kindly made a copy of his resulting database available here for NCS members. In David’s words, “It lists all ceramic registrations between 1884 and 1900 except tiles, tobacco pipes and industrial products providing the registration number, date of registration and the name and address of the party registering the design. Up to registered design 200049 (October 1892), there are also brief details of the purpose and content of each design. I hope that NCS members will find the exercise worthwhile”.

The documents containing the registration details and illustrations of the post 1883 registered designs are held at the Kew offices of TNA under document reference BT50/xxx for the designs and BT51/xxx for the registration details.

Hints for Searching this database ?

The two most likely criteria that you may want to use for searching this database are (1) the name of the owner of a registered design, or (2) a specific registration number.  To search by owner, use the keyword search.  The keywords are all names of owners, or abbreviations thereof.  To search for a specific design number, use the Free Format search, and enter the design number in the box for ‘First Word / Phrase’.  If you want to search for any other text, then use the Free Format search, but be aware that there are over 7,500 records in this database, so searches on some words like shape or pattern may return thousands of results.