Majolica / Maiolica - Confusion of Definition
The word majolica has a confusing history. The English had called tin-glaze maiolica ‘majolica’ for centuries. In 1849 Minton used the same word ‘majolica’ for his version of tin-glaze maiolica in imitation of the Italian Renaissance style, materials and process.
The public found the tin-glaze product uninspiring or unaffordable but adored another new product from Mintons, a vibrant colored-lead-glazes pottery which the Minton factory had named, ‘Palissy ware’. Soon however, the public were calling it ‘majolica’. Today we call it 'lead-glaze majolica’ to distinguish it from the seldom seen tin-glaze majolica. ‘Victorian Majolica’ refers to both tin-glaze and lead-glaze majolica produced between 1849 and 1900, the latter end of the Victorian era. These two majolica’s are distinctly different in composition and process. 1) the popular mass-produced earthenware typically molded in relief, coated with richly coloured, durable lead glazes applied direct to the biscuit, simultaneously, then fired 2) the rare tin glazed earthenware which is first fired to the biscuit stage, then covered in tin-glaze and dried, then painted with enamels and fired. Both types have a characteristic brilliance.
To find out more, read our blogs on the subject of this historic and ongoing confusion.