Antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks at the world of pottery...
Josiah Wedgwood had trained as a potter since the age of nine, serving his time with several other companies, including his family’s firm, before eventually setting up on his own – Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd, which began in the mid-18th century near Stoke-on-Trent and continues today. Nowadays the company has household names like Vera Wang and Jasper Conran designing for them.
This English firm’s first product in 1759 was a range of creamware, which was later developed to a fine pearlware. His most recognisable innovation must be Jasper ware, Wedgwood’s crowning achievement.
This unglazed, blue coloured pottery with a white relief decoration (often with a classical theme) was first introduced in 1775 and is recognisable to almost everyone, even those with little interest in antiques.
When Josiah died in 1795, the production of jasper ware was at its height. Although its popularity waned through the early 19th century, production resumed in 1860 and has continued until today, only interrupted by World War II.
By the mid-18th century products ranged from plaques and statues to brooches and snuff boxes, but it’s for their table wares that they are most famous.
Josiah Wedgwood was an early adopter of the manufacturing mark. Josiah took a very hard line against the many imitators of his work and was not afraid to battle it out in court. In order to protect his reputation, nearly all genuine Wedgwood was marked with their name from 1781. A common confusion is with “Wedgwood and Co” or “Wedgewood” marks. Neither of these relate to Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd. From 1860, a system of letter and number codes was also added which identified the month and year of manufacture as well as the name of the potter who threw the ware.
Josiah had good reason to look after his name. Even in their early days, the company had an excellent reputation and had been appointed “Potter to Her Majesty” by Queen Charlotte after impressing the Queen with a creamware dinner service.
These items are from the “Ivy House” range which was introduced in the 1960s as part of their home range.
Bringing us right up date, it would be hard to find a household that hasn’t a piece of Wedgwood in it at some point!