A BRIEF HISTORY OF H&R DANIEL

Henry Daniel portraitHenry Daniel, son of Thomas Daniel and Frances (Fanny) née Moore, was born in 1765. His father Thomas (1742-1818) was an important and respected figure in the potteries. He was a colour maker in the days when the industrial process was in its infancy. Only the larger concerns could employ their own colour maker . Smaller manufacturers had to send out their wares for decoration or buy their colours from people like Thomas Daniel or call him in as a consultant. Thomas was in heavy demand and doing very good business, as can be seen from the fact that he could afford to rent a very expensive house.

Thomas' collection of recipes was a most valuable inheritance for his son Henry. It is thought that Henry may have been apprenticed to Richard Dyer in Worcester, because on 10th August 1795 Henry married Richard's daughter, Elizabeth Dyer. Henry and Elizabeth had four children: Thomas born in 1798, Richard in 1800, John in 1802 and Ann in 1805.

Henry Daniel finished his apprenticeship around 1785 and then worked as a decorator of porcelain in Enoch Wood's factory in Burslem, probably until 1787. Evidence of Henry's activities in the next few years is very sparse but Michael Berthoud has speculated that he may have been working for John Mayer. At the beginning of 1796 Henry Daniel went into partnership with John Brown, as potters, enamellers and gilders in Shelton. In 1805 Henry Daniel opened up a branch of this firm within the Spode factory, solely for the purpose of decorating Spode's products. In 1806 Henry broke off the partnership with John Brown, who died shortly afterwards.

Shrewsbury 4339 Cream BowlHenry brought with him his recipes for glazes, colours, dips, fluxes and so on, and continued his pioneering work within the Spode factory. His contribution to the success of Spode is often underrated but some groundbreaking research is being done by John Democratis, who will be making an important presentation on the relationship between Daniel and Spode at the DCC seminar in September 2014.

Henry Daniel, possibly spurred on by his sons, broke his connection with Spode and opened his own manufactory in Stoke in 1822. He also opened a subsidiary factory in Shelton in 1826, the same year in which he secured a very prestigious order from the Earl of Shrewsbury. The range and magnificence of items made for this commission established Henry Daniel's reputation.

In 1827 Henry took his son Richard into partnership, creating the firm of H&R Daniel. Thomas and John were not made partners, although Thomas was sometimes employed as a manager. In his later years, Henry's relationship with Richard deteriorated. Richard was impatient with Henry, who may have been suffering from dementia caused by long exposure to all the dangerous chemicals with which he had experimented. Richard was anxious to take over control of operations but his father refused to let go. Henry's will, which he made in 1838, seems to have been an attempt to hold the family together. He left all his documents and recipes to John, no doubt hoping that this would ensure that Richard had to employ John.

InkstandRichard's ambition led him to over extend himself financially and the firm, still known as H&R Daniel, ceased trading in 1846; Richard himself was declared bankrupt in 1847. John Daniel made good use of his inheritance and became an independent colour maker. As regards Richard, there is some evidence to show that, after his release from debtors prison at the end of 1847, he went back into china and earthenware production, possibly until 1857 after which he worked as a manager in other pottery concerns.

During the life of the factory, the products of the Daniels were recognized as being the equal of any of their contemporaries, possibly surpassing most of them. As a relatively small company, they had to sell through retailers who dictated that they should not mark their pieces with their own name - the fear being that repeat customers would deal directly with the factory. Only the larger concerns, such as Spode and Wedgwood, had their own sales outlets and were able to ignore such requirements.

Apart from specially commissioned pieces, the majority of Daniel items are unmarked or, at best, bear a four digit number painted on the glaze and therefore prone to rubbing away in use. For this reason, the importance of Daniel became obscured over the years until the research by Geoffrey Godden and Michael Berthoud in the late 1970s had pioneered the identification of Daniel wares and re-established the reputation of H&R Daniel among the leading ceramicists of the 19th century.


A more detailed history of H&R Daniel for the website is currently being prepared by a specialist DCC researcher. It will be placed here when complete - watch this space!