Fireplace Tiles at Quarry Farm Inspire Storytelling

The parlor of Quarry Farm has a fireplace decorated with antique ceramic tiles based on Aesop’s Fables. The tile framed fireplace is a striking feature of the house that is often commented on by visitors.


Much as he did with the bric-a-brac atop the mantel at their home in Hartford, Samuel Clemens would weave a tale for his daughters each night, inspired by the scenes on the tiles they chose. The girls would complain when a story was recycled or not up to their father’s usual standard. Although she had no children of her own, Susan Crane is also said to have used the tiles as storytelling prompts for the many visiting families she and her husband entertained.

Select a tile below to find out more about the fable it depicts. [The text for each story was taken from sources in the public domain.]

This series of tiles was produced between 1875 and 1900 by Minton, Hollins, & Company, a Victorian ceramic company based in Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England. There were twelve different tile designs in this series; the Quarry Farm fireplace has two of each tile, for a total of twenty-four in all.