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1882 Ltd. is a design-led ceramics brand produced in Stoke-on-Trent, England formed by fourth and fifth generations of the Johnson Brothers family.

At the core of 1882 Ltd. is progressive design and industrial craftsmanship. We produce a combination of essential objects and special pieces that highlight the centuries of industrial heritage craft skills and knowledge that reside in the heart of the British ceramics industry, Stoke-on-Trent.

Our ceramics are to be used, loved and desired. They bring enjoyment, be it in dining, decorative objects or art pieces. Each collection has a different spirit but they always stay true to our core beliefs.

There is incredible human skill in everything we do and we focus on the process as well as the design. There are no less than 10 processes to make a mug, all of which require great human skill. While we are keen to show the processes behind how something is made we value the importance of good design and superlative quality that will last the test of time.

We are prepared to test the bounds of the material.

We make what we love.

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In the ten years since forming the company, 1882 Ltd. has worked ceaselessly to be true to its manifesto, collaborating with pioneering artists and designers such as Barnaby Barford, Max Lamb, Faye Toogood and John Pawson, producing works of art as well as tableware.

With Barnaby Barford, 1882 Ltd. was tasked to produce the stunning Tower of Babel, which was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum from September – November 2015. An awe-inspiring six and a half metres tall, it comprised 3,000 uniquely decorated fine bone china mini shops. Each building was hand-made in exquisite detail – a true testament to the specialist skills of the potters in Stoke-on-Trent.

In 2017 Garden Ware with acclaimed conceptual artist Bruce McLean was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London with a follow up exhibition at the New Art Center in May 2018.

1882 Ltd.’s collection, Crockery with Max Lamb, has been included in the permanent collection of Arts des Decoratif at the Louvre in Paris.  Tryst with Amy J Hughes has been included in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Other 1882 Ltd. collections are sold in retail outlets all over the world, from Japan and China to Europe and the USA.

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The name of their company evokes the deep roots of the Johnsons’ heritage, for 1882 was the year that Johnson Brothers was founded.

In 1882 the J.W. Pankhurst Company declared themselves bankrupt and the business was sold at a receivers’ sale. The buyers were Alfred and Frederick Johnson and the partnership was called Johnson Brothers. The factory was situated in Hanley, the largest of the Six Towns which joined together to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent, lovingly known as the Potteries.

The company produced mainly white ware which was popular at the time. Within a few years they introduced under-glaze printed ware, a commodity for which, over many years, they became justly famous. The end of the Civil War in America had created a great demand for consumer goods and Johnson Brothers were not slow to take advantage of the opportunities for trade with America.

Because of the increased demand the factories grew and in 1889 they built Hanley Pottery and then Imperial Pottery which were situated opposite each other in Eastwood Road, Hanley.

1896 also saw the opening of a new venture for the brothers, the Trent Sanitary Works. The year before they had opened another factory in the north of the city and named it ‘Alexander Pottery’ in honour of the Princess of Wales at the time.

Christopher Johnson started at Hanley Pottery in 1958 working in each department to gain an understanding of the various processes before taking charge of one of the factories in 1963. In 1968 Johnson Brothers became part of the Wedgwood Group. At that time there were eight members of the family working for the group. However, when Chris retired in 2002 he was the last Johnson to be connected.

137 years later 1882 Ltd. continues the Johnson legacy with the company name evoking the deep routes of the family heritage. 1882 Ltd. was formed in 2011 by fifth generation Emily Johnson and her father, Christopher.

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Generations of Knowledge

The Johnson Brothers started producing ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent in 1882. By the 1950’s the Johnson Brothers were producing 1 million pieces of pottery a week. The knowledge has been learned from the shop floor and through every department.

Chris Johnson has worked in the industry for 63 years in 2021. He proclaims that he knows very little and is ‘just a simple Potter’. Emily Johnson has a very steep learning curve ahead of her and few years to catch up on.

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Emily Johnson

Having lived in California selling television advertising for eight years, Johnson decided to return home to the UK. While studying for a Masters in Architectural Interior Design she was required to pick a material to study in detail, she chose fine bone china and in the process realised that not only did she know more than she thought but that it was a material that was undervalued as a vehicle for innovative design. Bone lights were designed by Em and impossible to make they were made by Chris. Indicative of what was to come and the start of something very exciting – 1882 Ltd. and with that supporting the ceramics industry of Stoke-on-Trent.

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Christopher Johnson

Having had a month off when he left school Johnson was immediately put to work in the family business. Starting in the slip house and working his way through each department he learned the business under the great tutelage of his Father, (Ernest) James Johnson. He was running his own factory at the age of 24 and when Johnson Brothers was bought by Wedgwood in 1964 he was asked to join their production team which led him to be Production Director at Wedgwood until he retired in 2002. There is nothing more important to Chris than the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent.