A blog about architectural tiles, terra cotta and other ceramic surfaces, architectural glass and ornamentation in and around New York.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Identification of United States Art Tiles and three new resources

March 1, 2018: My apologies to my readers. As a result of being overloaded this past month, I did not finish an article for this blog. I hope to remedy that in April. Below is an announcement about a successful preservation effort involving exterior friezes designed by Hildreth Meière and Waylande Gregory in Washington, DC. A few weeks ago we were notified by the Friends of Terra Cotta and the Tile Heritage Foundation of a request from the International Hildreth Meière Foundation to help save these murals, which could have been slated for demolition. You can visit the site below.

THANK YOU! So many people responded . . .
The Tile Heritage Mission continues to be fulfilled!
Quote from the Historic Preservation League:
"We can’t thank you enough for your letters of support which provided a strong foundation for approval prior to the hearing. The number of letters received set a record for the Historic Preservation League."
Municipal Center historic works of Hildreth Meière:

 The Identification of United States Art Tiles

Prior to the start of this blog in 2012, I was interested in the identification of antique tiles of the United States, which I still collect. Many of these tiles were marked, but many more were not marked in any way. Almost all, however, had "keys" on their reverse sides. Keys are the raised and/or indented areas on the reverse of a tile which are used to help a tile stick to a surface. Some keys are unique to a single tile manufacturer while others were used by more than one company. I tried to organize key patterns found on the backs of most U.S. tiles into a rational classification system loosely based on the work of British tile researchers Diana and Peter Clegg.

In 1997 I donated my research manuscript, A Guide to the Patterns and Markings on the Backs of Untied States Ceramic Tiles, 1870s-1930s, to the Tile Heritage Foundation, which, subsequently, sold copies to the public. In 1999 I self-published the first edition of A Field Guide to the Key Patterns on the Backs of United States Ceramic Tiles, 1870s-1930s, which is now in its third edition as a free download on the internet.(1) The field guide now contains drawings of about 800 key patterns on United States tiles, and new key patterns are being added as they are discovered. 

In 2005 The Journal of the American Art Pottery Association published my article and classification system of key patterns that underlies the "Field Guide".(2) That article is reprinted below with updates to the original. I do not claim that the classification system below is the only system that can be used with United States tiles. It is, however, the only system that has been published in conjunction to any research about key patterns that has been done to date.

1. Visit http://tilefieldguide.omeka.net/items/show/49, scroll down to "Files" and click on the pdf document. It can be downloaded to your computer.

2. Michael Padwee, "The Identification of Art Tiles: Key Patterns", The Journal of the American Art Pottery Association, Volume 21, No. 1, January/February 2005, pp. 12-15.


Robert Pinart Papers Study Guide

Prior to his death in October 2017 stained and dalle de verre glass artist Robert Pinart donated his glass-related papers, maquettes, color drawings, photographs and notebooks to the Rakow Research Library of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. ()

The archivists at the Rakow Research Library have published an online Study Guide to the Robert Pinart Papers at 

† Many of Mr. Pinart's papers, maquettes, drawings, sketchbooks and personal stained glass had been sold at auction to help pay for his stay in an assisted living residence.

Some Newly Found Resources

I recently wrote about the influence of Islamic art on the artist M. C. Escher. I have just been apprised of some new resources that focus on Islamic artistic influences. The first is the "Database of Islamic Heritage in Portugal" (http://patrimonioislamico. ulusofona.pt/about-en.php). "The project 'Islamic Heritage Database' is a project of the Religions Studies of the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias.
[The project presents] a survey list of Islamic heritage in Portugal (Including contemporary heritage of Islamic influence), both built and museological, with a methodically description in systematic records."


Photographer and artist Kelvin Bown uses modern technology to restore old images of the Middle East to renewed clarity, depth and detail. Shown below, the Qubbat al-Sakhra (the Dome of the Rock), built between 688 and 691CE is considered "...one of the greatest achievements of early Islamic architects, craftsmen and artists. ...Its intricate patterns reflect Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Sassanid influences, together with bands and medallions of Arabic calligraphy." ("FIRSTLOOK", AramcoWorld, Vol. 68, No. 5, September/October 2017, p. 3)

According to AramcoWorld, Kelvin Bown "stitched together nine digital scans [of the dome of Qubbat al-Sakhra] made from stereoscopic negatives originally taken between 1899 and 1920 by photographers commissioned by the American Colony of Jerusalem."



"Tile Advertisements in the Paris Métro" and "SAVED!!! The Empire State Dairy Tile Murals in Brooklyn, New York"

"The Sevillian tile style: Catalogo de Azulejos de Estilo Sevillano"

"Bits and Pieces: Updates for the Lever House, the Kesner Building and 2116 Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn" and an obituary for Robert Pinart

"The Commercial and Personal Art Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr." (Part I)

"Art Deco Commercial Architecture: Montgomery Ward’s Mid-Size Department Stores"

"Tessellations: Islamic Tile Patterns and M.C. Escher"

"Grant's Tomb, the Community and the Gaudi-esque benches of Pedro Silva" AND A request for help

"A Factory As It Might Be" and the 2016 Ortner Preservation Awards
The Atlantic Terra Cotta Company and the Beginnings of Polychrome Terra Cotta Use

Bits and Pieces: The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and following up on the James N. Gamble House and the Charles Volkmar Overmantle Mural

Art Deco Buildings and Their Lobbies: the Chrysler Building, the Film Center Building and the Kent Garage/Sofia Brothers Storage Warehouse


The Heart of the Park: Bethesda Terrace and its suspended Minton Tile ceiling

A Landmarks hearing was held on July 19, 2016...

Two Restorations: The City Hall Subway Station and the Tweed Courthouse

Egyptian, Moorish and Middle Eastern Ornamentation Used In Art Deco Terra Cotta in New York City, and Empire State Dairy Update
Wall Murals in Brooklyn: A Mini Survey

Inside Prospect Park: The park's Rustic, Classical and other Internal Architecture

Herman Carl Mueller in Titusville and Trenton, New Jersey; A Charles Volkmar Discovery in Clifton, New Jersey

A Book Review and New Discoveries and Updates-II: Jean Nisan, Ceramic Tile Artist

Polychrome Terra Cotta Buildings in Newark, New Jersey

New Discoveries-I: The Tiled House of Jere T. Smith

Introducing the Stained and Dalle de Verre Glass Art of Robert Pinart

Bits and Pieces: Polychrome Terra Cotta- and Tile-Clad Buildings

Socialist and Labor Architecture and Iconography in New York City

Bits and Pieces: Two Mosaics--Hamden, CT and Manchester, NH

The Renaissance Casino and Ballroom Complex in Harlem: Another Tunisian Tile Installation Headed for Demolition

Clement J. Barnhorn and the Rookwood Pottery

The Woolworth Building

The Mosaic Art of Hildreth Meière

Lost Tile Installations: The Tunisian Tiles of the Chemla Family

The Grueby Children's Murals on East 104th Street

The Experimental Lustre Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr.

Bits and Pieces: Two "E"s--Eltinge and Elks; and more about Jean Nison

The Ceramic Tiles and Murals of Jean Nison

Pleasant Days in Short Hills: A Rookwood Wonderland

Architectural Ceramics in the Queen City

Isaac Broome: Innovation and Design in the Tile Industry after the Centennial Exhibition

"Immigration on the Lower East Side": A Public Arts Mural Created by Richard Haas

Movie Palaces-Part 2: The Loews 175th Street Theatre

Béton-Coignet in New York: The New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company

Michelin House, London

Movie Palaces, Part 1: Loew's Valencia Theatre

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part II

The Tiles of Fonthill Castle

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part I

Tiled Facades in Madrid

Nineteenth Century Brooklyn Potteries

Ernest Batchelder in Manhattan

Leon Victor Solon: Color, Ceramics and Architecture

Architectural Art Tiles in Reading, Pennsylvania

Charles Lamb and Charles Volkmar

Kansas City Architecture - II

Kansas City Architecture - I

Westchester County--Atwood and Grueby

Modern Houses in New Caanan, Connecticut

PPG Place, Pittsburgh

Aluminum City Terrace, New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Newark's WPA Tile Murals: “Fine Art is an Important Part of Everyday Life”

Public Art Programs in New York City: The CETA Tile Murals at Clark Street

Concrete and Tiles-I: Moyer, Mercer, Murosa

The Café Savarin and the Rookwood Pottery; Chocolate Shoppe Rebounds

Architectural Ceramics of Henry Varnum Poor

Herman Carl Mueller and the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle

Meet Me at the Astor

The Mikvah Under 5 Allen Street; "Historic Hall" Apartments Revisited

London Post-3

Some Moravian Tile Sites in New York

London Post-2

London Post-1

Brooklyn's International Tile Company

Subway Tiles-Part III, the Squire Vickers Era

Subway Tiles-Part II, Heins and LaFarge

Subway Tiles--Part I, Guastavino tiles

Trent in New York-Part III, Historic Hall Apartment House

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part II, Artists' Tiles

Trent in New York-Part II, a Dey Street Restaurant

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part I, Tile Showrooms

Trent in New York-Part I, The Bronx Theatre

Fred Dana Marsh's Tiles


About this blog:

This is a non-commercial, educational blog. Content is compiled/written by Michael Padwee and all opinions expressed herein are my own, or quoted, and are offered without intending to harm any person or company.

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