I don’t know anything about antique tile. Well, I know only what Nicole Curtis has taught me on her show.
So here’s what Nicole Curtis has taught me so far:
- Old tile is thicker
- If you can save old tile, do it.
So I was out and about today – it’s been a great weekend for treasure-hunting – and came across this inconspicuous green tile. She was sitting all alone among figurines, ashtrays and other bric-a-brac. I almost didn’t see her, but I did.
First thing you do when you find something old and made of glass, ceramic or porcelain: turn it over. So I did. The lighting in Savers wasn’t that great because when I checked the underside, I didn’t see any identifying marks. I could see that the glaze was crackling, which told it me it was old. (It’s awfully hard to fake that.) She was only 99 cents, so home with me she went.
In the better light of this beautiful day, I was able to make out the word “Beaver” (tee-hee) under the barely-scraped-off price sticker, so I did a search.
Turns out “Falls” was also under the sticker poop, and that’s who made this tile: Beaver Falls. They were in business 1886-1927 and made some of the most beautiful cameo and relief tile in its day. I found some incredible examples, and even more here.
Beaver Falls tile is often highlighted/found on fireplace surrounds as well as stoves and walls (and I’ve seen something similar to the portrait below used in a fireplace mantle too) in homes built in that time. You know, the tile that Nicole Curtis finds many times in the homes she so lovingly restores, the tile that can’t be duplicated, where replacements can’t ever be found should any tiles become damaged… In other words, this tile is the bomb diggity. Unfortunately, because tile can only really be identified on the underside, we may not know when we’re looking at Beaver Falls when it’s in place, and considering the tile artists of the day were moving between and forming new tile companies somewhat frequently, it would take a real pro to discern one from the other without the benefit of the underside/I.D. Whereas mine is a 4 1/4″ squared tile, Beaver Falls also made the smaller subway tiles that we also see in those older homes with the original fireplace tile work, and many other sizes and orientations.
I wasn’t able to find anything that looked exactly like mine, so here she is!