The factory was established by Miklos Zsolnay in 1853. It produced stoneware and other ceramics. His son Vilmos joined the company in 1863 after his older brother Ignac didn't cope with restructuring the firm.
Vilmos Zsolnay was born April 19, 1828 in the city of Pecz. Vilmos was second out of seven brothers.
Vilmos made the company famous thanks to participation in numerous international exhibitions. He won the Grand Prix at the World Expo in Paris in 1878, and the French government awarded Vilmos Zsolnay with an honorary distinction. Then, the demand for Zsolnay products increased worldwide.
In 1882 number of employees rose to 460. In 1886 in a new factory was started production of stove tiles. In 1893, Zsolnay introduced porcelain pieces made of eosin.
In 1900 the company was taken over by Vilmos' son, Miklos. Zsolnay frost-resisting architectural decorations were especially popular during art nouveau period.
Problems started after WWI, disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbian occupation. After a few years conditions improved, but the Budapest factory was bombed during WWII. The firm was nationalized in 1948 and renamed as Zsolnay National Company of Pécs.
In 1963 the factory lost independence. It was used to was used to produce common tableware goods. The Zsolnay mark started to be used again in 1974. From 1982 the firm was independent again. The company was privatised in 1995.