Thomas Till & Son/s

Thomas Till and Son/s Online Museum


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Valuations and valuing what you have...

Posted by thomastillandsons on June 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (8)

I suppose our main source of Thomas Till finds is on the internet because neither of us drive. It is a rare event to go into a charity shop and have an interesting find as we did with our original 'Venus' dinner service. I say dinner service but it was a part service consisting of 12 place settings of various size dinner plates, large soup bowls, a gravy boat and base and a few other items. For this we paid the grand sum of £30.00. Our knowledge of Thomas Till then was nil! My husband was convinced it was a 1970's service but I did have a feeling that it was much older and in the category of vintage at least but I wasn't going to argue. I liked it and that was enough!

When we checked out the manufacturer we were delighted to find out that it had to be made before 1928 - though we now understand it is Victorian - and we saw that Burslem Antiques in Staffordshire were selling a graded set of three platters in the same pattern for £100.00. We decided to buy them and that was the real start of our collection.

So why were we prepared to pay £100 for the platters but only £30.00 for the part dinner service? There is no doubt that a part tea or dinner service is not that desirable, however pretty or old. In fact an older service has the disadvantage that it can be virtually impossible to make up spare items because of its great age so one has to accept the possibility of mixed matches such as flow blue mixes or imari mixes to make up a workable 'shabby chic' set. However, a set of three very good condition platters was worth that amount to us because they were desirable in their own right and it was pure luck that they were in the same pattern as our newly acquired 'Venus' part service. We have managed to put together a complete dinner service with spares over the years but we couldn't have guaranteed it.

The important thing about my message is that we value all of our 'Venus' pieces because they were our first Till items but it is not about the actual cost. Sadly it would appear that value and valuing what you have are two different sets of ideals. For instance we were very excited to come across this new handpainted pattern for sale described as a tea set. We would have been really interested in the set but on further reading we discovered that it only consisted of 7 cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and a cake plate. That is NOT a set... We were less that impressed by the fact that this lovely handpainted ware was beautifully displayed on the top of a wheelie bin (?!) and the seller was chancing their arm by asking for the ridiculous starting price of £100.00! Nice try but we were put off this completely. In this instance the seller might have been better selling cup and saucers sets and the sugar and cake plate separately. To call it a set is false. A set has to have an even number of cups, saucers and possibly side plates if there is a cake plate. A creamer and sugar bowl are a must but a full set really consists of a teapot with lid and stand. Unfortunately many people collect teapots so sets are often broken. I'm afraid that the value put on this 'set' was completely unrealistic but more importantly, the seller clearly didn't value the item for what it was by sticking it on a dustbin!

So what would have been a reasonable price? If individual cups and saucers had been advertised with a starting price of £ 5.00 we might have placed a bid upto £10.00 per item. We may also have done the same for the sugar bowl and cake plate. We would have been unlikely to go for more than 6 cups and saucers but individually this could have added up to between £40.00 &  £80.00 which is pretty damned good for a part set! (We might have bid for the 7th cup and saucer as a spare) So £100 was a bit optimistic but if the seller had valued the items more and displayed them better they could still have got a good price. As it happens I don't believe the 'set' sold...

The harsh realities...

Posted by thomastillandsons on April 1, 2012 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Oh dear... We have been running this online museum since 2009 and I have worked out that to keep the website running it is costing us £65.00 per month including the price of keeping the website advert free, internet costs, electricity, etc. This doesn't include what we pay out for Thomas Till pieces to add to our collection...

This is a non-profit making resource for those who want to find out about Thomas Till or any of the items that he produced but the sad fact is that we have to now come cap in hand and ask for donations to enable us to keep up this website. We have included a Donations Page (see the list on the left) where any help would be gratefully received. A donation, however small, can be made safely using Paypal.

The other option is to support our website by having a look at our new CafePress Shop. When we visit a museum it is always  nice to come away with a souvenier. Now not everybody wants to have a Till and Sons tea or dinner service in their home - however nice they are, anymore than you would bring home a Chippendale chair from a visit to a country home. However, using our CafePress page you can buy an adult or childs T-Shirt with or without sleeves, a hoodie, apron, reuseable shopping bag, school bag, window sticker, clock, mug, water bottle, etc all with the "I [heart] Thos Till and Sons Online Museum".  There are some lovely baby all-in-one suits and bibs. The clothing comes in a varity of colours and would make great presents. The Till & Son/s Online Museum gets 10% of anything that is bought through their secure checkout using Paypal.

If you have a Till item that you wish to sell we are happy to put photographs on our website indefinately for just £2.50. We do not complete the sale for you but we can let prospective buyers contact us and we will send you their details. All we ask is that you inform us when an item is sold so that we can remove the price and replace it with a SOLD notice. We can advice on a reasonable asking price as well if you wish. 

We do know that times are hard for everybody but every little helps...

Thank you for your continued support of our online museum and we look forward to hearing more about your Till items.

Christina & Mic

A few of my favourite things!

Posted by thomastillandsons on March 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (1)

It is always exciting to discover a new piece of Till & Son/s and we are always delighted when somebody tells us about their own items and shares their story with us. I must admit I do have a few favourite pieces.

My all time favourite has to be our handpainted tea services. There is just something so wonderful about holding a completely handpainted Till item, especally when it is one of the signed pieces F.H.Bourne. (There was a Francis Bourne living at the residence of Thomas Till and we have wondered if she was the artist concerned but we are not sure that the timeline would be right. We will of course carry on checking this out. ) We have a few items in the handpainted wares including odd items from dressing table sets and other decorative items. Sadly we missed out on a complete handpainted dressing table set in 2006. We also have a significant amount of handpainted transferware which are a black background with various coloured roses and leaves linked by gold piping. This is nearly as nice for me but I must admit I would rescue the completely handpainted items from a house fire.

Handpainted Till and Sons

There is something very special about 'Shanghae' for me. It often crops up for sale so isn't that scarce and I put this down to the fact it is quite a solid and robust earthenware. We probably have about three complete dinner and tea services by now! It seems to have spanned most of Till and Sons production and we have pieces impressed with just TILL, Till and Son and Till and Sons. It is often referred to as 'India tree' - possibly because it resembles  patterns of this name by other companies. We used our very large two handled 'loving cup' tankard which we used in our wedding ceremony to have a first drink as a married couple in a Craich ceremony. We tried a small liquour at first but it disappeared on the bottom of the tankard so a 'sip' from that during the wedding would not have been elegant!! Instead we opted for a Scottish real ale :D 

'Shanghae' doubled handled tankard

I particularly like dressing table sets and wash sets as they have a real use and can be on display. There are some very pretty sets but I have a particular soft spot for 'Pekin' which is a delicate polychrome oriental pattern with lots of gilding. We have pieces with a white, pale blue and red background. The red is very different but doesn't crop up too often, sadly. However we have lots of white and blue background versions which we can mix and match a bit.


I do like our collection of jugs and teapots which are growing quickly and we still discover different styles and forms. We still have quite a few to add on to this website  - yes I know... I keep saying we will do this! Some are much nicer than others. I am not overly keen on the 'Irene' 'Ena' and 'Empire' patterns which appear to be a variation of the each other. I like the more typical Victorian excessive styles such as 'Poppy', 'Parisien', 'Alba', 'Lahore' and 'Venus'. The list isn't exhaustive because there are many patterns I really love.


Finally, one single person coffee set is my last special item. It is in a delightfully diminuative coffee can and saucer, sugar bowl and creamer and lidded coffee pot in a rich coloured paisley pattern. Sadly there is no pattern name and we have never seen another one like it - fingers crossed that we will :)  I will try to add a photograph of the coffee set soon.

Christina x

Broken in transit...

Posted by thomastillandsons on February 24, 2012 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Most of our Thomas Till acquisitions come to us via parcel post so it is always very disappointing when something eagerly anticipated arrives as a jigsaw :( .  Some people are excellent at packing items using wads of bubble wrap, cardboard, crumpled newspaper to fill gaps and know to keep the item away from the sides of the boxes. Most mail companies are not as careful with our parcels as we would like or hope them to be and even the best packed parcels can arrive with breakages. Obviously it is disappointing and annoying if we have paid a lot for an item but even if we have managed to purchase a Till item for a song we are still saddened to know that over a hundred years of history has been destroyed in a second...

Yes we do mend pieces for our collection and to add to our museum but the reality is that the item is worthless if it is broken. Most sellers are very reasonable and will reimburse a payment if items are broken but it is rare to get the costs of postage back which can be very high. Even more annoying is when people specifically ask us how to pack an item and then proceed to completely ignore our suggestions.

We recently paid quite a lot for an old dinner service which we had not seen before with just the impressed TILL backstamp. After suggestions that the service was packed equally into two cardboard boxes and each item individually wrapped in bubble wrap and the gaps filled with crumpled newpaper to stop the item moving about inside the boxes, we were dismayed to see two plastic lidded boxes arrive and the items were basically wrapped in newspaper and the lids held down with parcel tape which is most definately NOT sufficient. We now have a muffin dish lid, a pewter lidded jug, three saucers and a sandwich plate in pieces. Now we would not have minded so much if the packing had been good but there was no attempt to pack as we had advised. One of the plastic boxes was completely crushed in one corner and provided no protection - indeed it might have contributed towards the damage to the items... :mad: And given that the seller had originally said that the service was already packed in two plastic boxes ready for pick up I don't think it is an unreasonable assumption to believe that the dinner service was not repacked at all and simply sent.

It isn't the cost that is the issue but the fact that we had not seen this pattern before - we may never again... This dinner service could have survived for as long as 162 years but now it is incomplete :(. We are passionate about Till & Son/s so it is really sad when a piece of pottery has lasted for so many years but then destroyed through carelessness...

Ah well....

Owners contributions and valuations...

Posted by thomastillandsons on February 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

First of all, a huge thank you to all of those who have responded to our website and provided us with photographs of your own Till pieces. It is wonderful to know that there is so much interest in Thomas Till and we love sharing stories of how the items were actually acquired. Many being inherited or received as presents.

One of the most common questions we are asked is how much an item is worth. Obviously we do have a rough idea how much items are worth based on what we observe or have paid for Till pieces. However we are not valuers and if we have paid for something through an auction then really the item is valued at that price on the day. It is true that an antique dealer is going to put a higher price tag on an item than a piece entered into an auction. It is only reasonable that a dealer has to make a profit on a transaction so buying cheaply at auctions makes sense.

In all honesty, the likelihood of owning a valuable Till item isn't terribly high as Wedgewood, Spode, Clarice Cliffe or Moorcroft are all recognisable names that trip off the tongue as being collectable. Sadly when we mention Thomas Till we are more likely to be met by a blank stare! However we hope that we are raising the Till profile and we would be delighted to see more 'Till' collectors as we now know there is a lot of undiscovered Till & Son/s pieces worldwide.

We have seen some ridiculous prices being asked for quite ordinary Till items. For instance we have seen a pair of 'Empire' Tureens described as extremely rare and have been advertised for £450 - for about two years! They are neither rare or that valuable.  We did see a full handpainted 8 piece washbowl set advertised in an antique dealers for £450 about three years ago which we believe sold to a buyer in Australia. In our opinion this is a good investment as fully handpainted items are desirable. (They may have been signed by F.Bourne the painter) The same antique dealer also had a washbowl and jug in the same handpainted design. We would have loved to have bought this but unfortunately we could not afford the £250 asking price...

Parian ware jugs are quite collectable, as are teapots. We also look out for graduated jugs because a complete set to have survived intact is always a pleasure to discover.

We will look forward to your continued support. You can also find our new Facebook page on!/pages/Thomas-Till-SonS/149431981809158

Please come and 'like' us!

Best wishes

Christina & Mic

Greetings & a Merry New Year for 2012!

Posted by thomastillandsons on December 31, 2011 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well I must say that what started out as a mild interest in 2006 fast became a regular hobby for us and later a mildly obsessive compulsive disorder... However, we have recognised that not only is our interest in Thomas Till bordering on OCD we are fast becoming 'hoarders'!!

The good news is that we have recognised this serious condition and we are attempting to rectify this matter immediately. We have decided that when we have catalogued and photographed every item we own, some for displaying on this website - others for our own records, we will sell some surplus items on this website.  It does make sense to keep  just a few select items - this will still mean that we have a number of very full cabinets and shelves but at least we will have reduced the number of packed boxes that are stored everywhere and severely impinging on our living space... There really is a limit to how many 'Clyde' dinner plates one really needs...

Hopefully we will be able to help those interested in Thomas Till to complete their own dinner or tea service and enjoy a little bit of Thomas Till & Son/s with us.

However, this is not the end of our hobby by any means. We still want to continue to search for new patterns and forms and maintain a more manageable collection. Indeed we have been lucky enough to come across three new patterns in the last month!

We have received many  enquiries and comments about our website from all over the world which is very exciting for us given that we assumed any interest in Thomas Till would be restricted mainly to Staffordshire. We have also received valuable feedback on our website from a variety of sources. We have asked friends and family to 'road test' our website to make sure links work and the pages are published properly. My writing and uploading of photographs has been a little ad hoc, I'm afraid, and I hold my hands up to some bad grammar and much repetition. This is probably down to the many many pages of notes that I have made as I have been researching the Till family. Having said that, the consensus opinion appears to be that the majority of those who contacted us like the 'book' format so we have decided to keep it. Others have reported enjoying reading about how we started collecting and like the fact we are just a normal couple who are sharing an interest - however we have decided to move pages about us down the side list as this is a Thomas Till website. Some people are actually surprised when we reply and possibly thought we were an imaginary couple!

We decided against a more formal format for the website, as suggested, if it were to be an academic resource, as we do not want to alienate those who feel that we are easy to approach and chat with. Many have said they enjoy browsing round our website and that they prefer that it isn't 'stuffy and patronising'.  We will retain the use of 'Museum' in our title but I am not aware that the use of the word means that we have to lose an element of humour about our website. Nonetheless, we do try to be as  factually accurate as possible when we write about the Till family and if we are not sure about our facts we do state this.  

I am eternally grateful to Cynthia Russell, a direct descendent of the Till family, and members of the family who, through Ms Russell,  have been able to fill in many gaps in the family tree and correct me over some points. It is my absolute aim to ensure that I do justice to Thomas Till's memory and their continued input is of great importance to this website.

So we are on the eve of 2012 and our collection is just five and a half years old yet has grown far beyond our wildest expectations when we began. We would like to wish you all a Merry New Year and a prosperous 2012.

Kindest wishes,



Posted by thomastillandsons on October 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

We would just like to issue a big Thank You! to those who have contacted us with information about Thomas Till, requests for information about Thomas Till earthenware and also details of the treasures that you have hidden away. We are slowly trying to photograph and catalogue all of our extensive collection but it is a slow process.

We are still collecting and looking out for new patterns or different forms of exisiting patterns so our collection is still growing.

We are often asked for a rough valuation of different Till items. We would love to be able to give a difinitive answer but the honest one at present is that Thomas Till earthenware sells for what somebody is prepared to pay. We have obviously paid more for unusual and individual items when they have appeared but we refuse to pay 'over the odds' for an item. For us, Thomas Till is a collectable of the future.  Some pieces are certainly more collectable than others but it also depends upon condition. And of course you have to love what you collect. One of my favourite items is a 'Lahore' pewter lidded jug which, on closer inspection, suffered a catastrophe and is stapled together to one side. Sadly it is probably virtually worthless in monetary terms but to us when we found it it was priceless.

We did have our eye on a wonderful set of three graduated handpainted jugs for ages which were not unreasonably priced at around £50 each. Unfortunately we weren't in a position to afford them but they came down slightly in price and a timely wedding cheque meant that we could justify buying them! However, a pair of 'Louis' tureens are presently being advertised at around £700. Now we cannot tell somebody not to pay this if they need to complete a dinner service but we certainly would not. We would rather invest in something earlier, probably handpainted and frankly, less boring and quirkier!

Sometimes we see a reasonably priced Till item but sadly they are in America or Australia which can make the purchase prohibitive due to postage costs. However even more annoying is the idea that delivering to our part of Scotland costs more than other parts of the UK. It does depend on the courier but ParcelForce charge the same as the rest of the UK, certainly to our area, so it is very annoying when we realise a seller won't deliver to our area or try to charge more... hmn...

Well, once again we are delighted to hear from anyone with a piece of Till or Tillson ware in their china cabinet, attic or paintbrush cleaning mug.  It doesn't matter that we may be very familiar with the pattern - we are collectors - we should be! Sometimes somebody does have something that we have never seen or a familiar pattern but in a different style. So please continue to send us photos of your treasures and do visit us when you can.

Kindest regards,

Christina & Mic