Martin Brothers Pottery British, 1873-1914


The four Martin Brothers were pottery manufacturers in London from 1873 to 1914. In their own day their Martinware was described as art pottery, and they were one of the earliest potteries making this, but in modern terms they fit better into the studio pottery category, which was invented later.

The four brothers (Wallace, Walter, Charles and Edwin) produced a distinctive type of stoneware pottery from the 1870s through to 1914, when their pottery closed, with a little work being produced through to 1923, when the last brother, Robert Wallace Martin, died. Their output included both vessels and figures. They were best known for their bird sculptures and bowls, vessels decorated with sea creatures, and tiles, fashioned in a whimsical but highly skillful style. The "Wally Birds" vary, and do not represent any actual species, but generally have a large and rather fierce-looking beak, massive feet and talons, and a quizzical look in their large eyes, which have a rather human shape. Their heads lift off to reveal a cavity in the body, generally intended to store pipe tobacco. Martinware, especially the sculptural pieces, is very popular with collectors, and as of 2015 the record auction price was US$ 196,000 for a bird jar.