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Thomas Barton is now considered to be perhaps the finest makers of Tunbridge ware in the 19th century. Originally apprenticed to the Wise family manufactory of Tunbridge ware, Barton began working for the well-respected partnership of James Nye and his son, Edmund, in 1836. Demonstrating his extraordinary design skills and tessellated mosaic work, he soon became the top designer with the Nyes and was thereafter made a partner in the business. It was Barton who was responsible for producing the fine pieces exhibited by Nye in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Shortly before Nye’s death in 1863, Barton took over the workshop purchasing everything from Nye for £400. His work is instantly recognisable from the woods that he favoured, such as coromandel and ebony as a background and with his use of oak stained green by the fungus Chlorosplenium aeruginascens. In 1864 Barton was awarded first prize in the First Class for skilled manufacture at the Tunbridge Wells Industrial Exhibition. He continued making beautiful pieces of Tunbridge ware until his death in 1903.

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