Thomas Morris Ltd Crown Chelsea China Red mark

by David
(Cheshire UK)

Thomas Morris Ltd Crown Chelsea China Red mark

Thomas Morris Ltd Crown Chelsea China Red mark

I’m a 68 year old retired English Engineer. I’m not a specialist collector but I do like quality and older items so over the years I’ve collected a few nice pieces of china, glass, silver and furniture.

My eye is usually drawn to simple shapes and lightly patterned items. My wife is very keen on china and pottery with a particular liking for “Blue and White”, Royal Copenhagen, Floral Patterns and Iznik style.

I've just come back from Southern California where I have been helping my 80 year old sister with the administration of her ex-husband's estate after he died recently.

My brother-in-law also came from England and he and my sister emigrated to the US 50 odd years ago. Apart from finding our way past the mound of Californian “red tape” which appears to be designed to stop anyone doing anything nowadays, one of the biggest tasks we faced was clearing his house ready for sale.

To be kind I would call my brother-in-law a collector, but in reality he was a bit of a “hoarder” and I literally sorted out 2 tons of old stuff that was only fit for the dump!

When we had removed the trash, the house was still over furnished and there was plenty of other stuff on display. Amongst what was left, we came across 9 dinner plates which my sister recognised as a set that her mother-in-law had given her many years before. They had been used for a while but then carefully stored away and forgotten about.

They have a gold rim and a beautiful floral pattern that appears to be transfer printed and hand finished. They immediately caught my eye as something beautiful and collectable.

The plates have a red makers mark on the back which I have identified as one of those used by Thomas Morris Ltd of Longton Staffordshire for their Crown Chelsea China

When I looked on line I saw quite a lot of Thomas Morris china up for sale and there are a number of variants of this makers mark, some black, some green, and also some say Made in England underneath whereas the ones we found just say England. I have searched high and low on line and I can’t find the pattern or the red mark like the one shown in the photos I’ve included.

I have also found virtually nothing about the history of Thomas Morris Ltd and whether it just shut down and disappeared or was taken over by one of the larger companies in the potteries. These 9 plates are really quite nice quality so I would be surprised if someone did not sweep up the pieces when Thomas Morris ceased trading.

Also the Crown and the link with Chelsea are unexplained. I thought that generally one had to have some sort of royal patronage to use the crown mark, which again would suggest that Thomas Morris ltd was a quality manufacturer of some repute and unlikely to just disappear.

As for Chelsea, well at first I mixed it up with the Chelsea Porcelain company which some say was one of the founders of the English Porcelain industry and was subsumed by Crown Derby in 1770.

Wow, I thought, if these are just marked Chelsea without reference to Derby they must be pre 1770. What a Find! No of course not, these have nothing to do with Chelsea Porcelain and are likely to be about 150 years younger.

So I'm wondering, can anyone tell me the date range that this red mark was used and better still identify the pattern and when it was made?

Also I would be interested to learn the significance of the Crown Chelsea name and some history of Thomas Morris Ltd and where its descendants are today.


Comments for Thomas Morris Ltd Crown Chelsea China Red mark

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Crown Chelsea China
by: Peter (admin)

Dear David

Some great work, and a very nice article, thank you for telling us the fascinating Anglo/American background.

The more research I do on china, the more I realise how much more closely the two countries are linked than we generally realise in terms of culture and peoples.

You are right, your rather fine plate was made by Thomas Morris at the Regent Works, Longton, Staffordshire, under the label 'Crown Chelsea China'. They were in business from 1892 to 1941. They were known only for china (for which read 'bone china' rather than earthenware, ironstone or stoneware).

This is a c.1912 version of their standard mark (with the the single word 'England', rather than the later use of the three words "made in England" which came in about 1928), is clearly shown in Goddens encyclopedia.

Their only other mark on record is a Lion profile in a plinth with a cursive monogram of TM with the T lying on top of the M.

There was another, completely separate Longton potter of exactly the same name 'Thomas Morris' of the Anchor Works who used an anchor and the initials T.M. This firm operated from 1897 to 1901 and also specialised in porcelain bone china.

I feel the reason these types of small fine china potteries went out of business was not only that demand for their types of wares slowed and they didn't have the resources to think up newer versions, but also because their production values were high and there was simply not enough margins in it for them. Fine porcelain bone china is very expensive to produce. If you put the prices high enough to cover costs and give a sustainable margin, you price yourself out of the market.

The good news for collectors is that something of quality always tends to keep its price, even when they are not so much in fashion anymore.

Best regards

Peter (admin)

by: David

Thank you Peter for providing a few more pieces of the jigsaw.
Best regards, David

Thank you Anthony
by: David

Thank you so much Anthony, for continuing to fill in the history behind my plates. I enjoy them all the more as I learn about them and the people who made them. The family connection is especially valuable.
Best regards, David


Comment by Peter (admin)

May I second David's thanks to Anthony for that fascinating insight of Staffordshire pottery history. I feel good about that because it is yet another first for this site!

Thanks guys for a wonderful thread. Keep it coming!

Peter (admin)

Crown Chelsea
by: Michelle

I have come across some beautiful items from 1912 as it states made in England with a lovely dark navy pattern on rim.
If I was to sell these items how much would I get?


The two Thomas's
by: Kylie

Hello, I can help solve a part of the mystery. The two Thomas Morris's were father and son, the elder died in 1896 leaving the firm to his family but his son branched out on his own the following year with the Anchor Works. I am very fortunate to own a couple of pieces of the pottery with the lion as a mark(no idea on age) and one day I am hoping to track down a piece with the anchor works logo as well ...

they were my ancestors :)



Reply by Peter admin (Feb 2018)

Hi Kylie

Great information - something that even Goddens encyclopaedia couldn't tell us.


Peter (admin)

by: David

Thank you Kylie for filling in more detail.

Incidentally the Anthony referred to above was the great grandson of Thomas Morris (senior I think) so you must be related.


Thomas Morris Senior and Junior NEW
by: Antony Davies

Hello again,

I noticed since my last visit to your page the entry by Kylie above. I wasn't aware of a relationship between father and son at the Thomas Morris Regent China Works (later Crown Chelsea) and the Thomas Morris Anchor Works, but I did suspect something like that given the close proximity of the two large factories. I can't however find any record of Thomas Morris (Regent Works) having had a son Thomas. His father had been called Thomas so perhaps the references are a generation out.

There was also unfortunately the Anchor Works operated by Sampson Bridgwood & Sons in the same place at the same period, all very confusing. The Regent Works were alongside Regent Road at Mount Pleasant hence the name.

It would seem though that I may be a relative of Kylie's, so I'd be delighted to get in touch, and perhaps we can fill in a few more gaps. I have a good collection of works by Thomas Morris's Regent China Works (with the lion mark) and also of Crown Chelsea, run by his daughter Annie and her husband Harry Davies. The company did enjoy some Royal patronage and produced "Royal Crown Chelsea" as a separate, even higher quality, range after a visit by some members of the Royal family for whom a special dinner service had been made in about 1907. That work is now quite scarce and the exceptional quality is evident in the stunning deep blue glazes and impressed gilt edges.

The companies had an earlier history. Thomas Morris operated with Joseph Morris and Thomas Burton as "Burton, Morris & Co" at Bagnall from about 1873. Articles in "Connoisseur" magazine suggest that that business had its origins in the 1840s, and that it probably evolved from a small family business in the late 18th century. My email address is in case Kylie would like to get in touch. Regards, Antony Davies

Crown Chelsea China NEW
by: David Honor

We have a twelve setting tea service with black back stamps with only ENGLAND underneath. Please can you advise date of manufacture. Thank you.

Makers information NEW
by: Kristina


I found the following information while researching my beautiful part tea set with the earliest mark of the Lion and overlaying T and M.

Hoping it’s still of interest!

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