Famous Potters of Stoke-on-Trent
Toft is the best known of the seventeenth century Staffordshire slipware potters, but very little is known about his life.
He was probably the Thomas Toft who married in 1663 and was buried at Stoke on 3 December 1689.
Over thirty signed dishes have been recorded but a few of them may have been made by his son, also Thomas Toft.
North Staffordshire, in particular Burslem,
was a centre for earthenware slipware manufacture between 1670 and 1730.
It was here that Thomas Toft made his slipware dishes, of which about 30-40 are still known to exist. Another famous slipware maker of the 'Toft' family, was Ralph Toft, possibly Thomas Toft's brother or son, who is thought to have worked around 1675. There was also a Cornelius Toft and James Toft.
Designs attributed to Thomas Toft include mermaids, unicorns, pelicans, but also King Charles II and his wife Queen Catherine of Braganza, and numerous coats of arms. A cross-hatched rim was fairly typical of the style.
The Toft style, combined with the slip trailing technique, was firmly established in the Staffordshire area by the middle of the 17th C. Other potters working in that style were Ralph Turner, William Taylor, Ralph Simpson and Richard Meir.
Sometimes a red slip was trailed on to a lighter background, sometimes vice-versa. Black and green slips were also used. According to the common practice of the time, these earthenware's were glazed with a galena lead oxide glaze, giving them their characteristic yellow tinge.
questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks
updated: May 2008