|Dutch ornamental tiles were
created in the 16th Century. The first use of wall tiles was
probably in areas where dampness and dirt were worse and the
earliest wall tiles were used mainly as baseboards, then other wall
areas also began to be tiled... within the hearth and alongside it,
on corridor walls and other places where one was likely to brush
At least half of the population lived in one-room dwellings and
any tiles that could be afforded were restricted to baseboards.
Until 1650, it was mainly the burghers of the cities in the province
of Holland who tiled their living quarters.
The tremendous growth of the tile market was a function of
growing prosperity in the early 16th to late 17th Century and these
newly prosperous customers brought about spectacular growth in the
industry. After 1600, hardly a year went by without the opening of a
Although Dutch tiles are commonly referred to as "Delft", this is
merely a generic designation. Although tiles were made in the town
of Delft, they were also manufactured in Amsterdam, Rotterdam,
Harlingen, Makkum, Haarlem, Leiden, and other Dutch towns. These
tiles are in patterns of blue and white and polychrome, but also in
purple and white (manganese), which were made in Rotterdam and other
We became interested in Dutch tiles after we had been importing
Dutch furniture and accessories for our shop, Black Swan Antiques,
in Connecticut. We had been in business since 1985, selling mainly
English and European furniture and accessories. When we wanted to
buy and sell Dutch tiles, we learned that Bear's great grandfather,
a deacon in the Old Church in Delft, also worked in the potteries
there. So we feel that there is a link between our new venture and
our own family history.
As will be shown on our selection pages, tiles depict a wide
variety of subjects, from the most simple figure or tree to a
complicated landscape or figural motif.
Susan and Hubert van Asch van