Villeroy and Boch Tiles
Copyright © A Kaske 2001
The picture to the left shows a set of four Villeroy and Boch art deco tiles (two additional patterns are shown at the bottom of this page). These floor tiles came from a dining room in Anker Hospital in St. Paul Minnesota. Anker hospital was demolished in about 1968 which is when we acquired our tiles.
In 1872 a ten room mansion was used as the first part of the Anker Hospital complex, later (1903, 1910 and 1917) three more Anker hospital buildings were built. We do not know from which building these tiles came. The 'deco' design seems to preclude the 1872 building. The Great War was still in progress until November of 1918 so that probably precludes the 1917 building. Thus it seems that the tiles date from around 1903 to 1910. The tiles, of course, might have been installed after the building was constructed.
Villeroy and Boch have kindly informed me that the tiles date back to the beginning of the twentieth century and were made till the beginning of the 1920's. Since production was not dated separately, they were not able to indicate the exact year of manufacture, and they have no information on the designer nor when they were exported to the States.
My wife tells me that the patterns I have shown are not those that were on the floor of the dining room when she was a nurse there. That pattern, shown here, incorporated two of each of the patterns that lack the dark navy border. It rather nicely forms a continuous pattern but does not, in my opinion, look well in a group of only four tiles.
The individual tiles are approximately 159mm x 159mm x 18mm (6.25 in. x 6.25 in. x .71 in.). Observing the tile edges and one broken piece of tile seems to indicate the following: The surface of the tile body seems to have been covered with a white slip several millimeters thick. The four other colors (grey, beige, light blue and dark blue/black) seem to extend at least 1mm-2mm (.04 in.-.08 in.) into the white layer. Perhaps each layer is laid down in incisions in previous formed layers. There is no bleeding between colors which seems to indicate that either each color layer was fired before successive layers were applied or that the colors were 'dry' when applied. I am quite unsure about the method of fabrication. Images of the other two patterns from our collection and an image of the back of a tile are shown below.
Villeroy and Boch was established in 1748 and is still in existence. The firm began production of floor tiles in 1852 in Mettlach. In the United States people are usually only familiar with Villeroy and Boch fine tableware, but as you can see they made and continue to make tiles and, other ceramic fixtures as well as tableware.
Villeroy and Boch tiles in a color similar to our tiles are installed in the "porch" of St Joseph's Cathedral in Dunedin, New Zealand. One cannot quite make out the pattern from the image shown. The tiles at St. Joseph's were installed in 1890.
Two other patterns and the back of a tile
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Perhaps you might want to read about our other antique collections