Beyond Jasperware: Two Centuries of Wedgwood Ceramics

Wedgwood Bird ButterpatWedgwood Lustre Dragon BowlWedgwood Jasperware Jardiniere

In England, a country noted for its masterful ceramics, Josiah Wedgwood is acknowledged as the master potter. Establishing his factory in 1759, his experiments and improvements of existing ceramic bodies led to creation of his famous Jasperware, the fine stoneware decorated with classic figures in white relief. This Wedgwood product is the most familiar to American collectors.

However, Wedgwood also developed a fine black stoneware called black basalt; and his creamware, a light bodied fine pottery made to imitate more expensive porcelain, was his greatest success.

Josiah died in 1795, but his Wedgwood company has continued to this day. Now, as Wedgwood, Ltd., it is a conglomerate of many Stoke-on-Trent potteries and related industries.

Early in the 19th century, shallow pie dishes or covered bowls of buff stoneware simulating pastry were produced by many factories. An outgrowth of an acute flour shortage and the imposition of a high flour tax, these dishes were used in place of the usual pie crust enclosing game. Wedgwood game pie dishes made of cane ware are particularly attractive, with leaf or floral decoration around the bowl and a flat cover, often with a rabid or cauliflower finial.

Throughout the 19th century, Wedgwood company continued tot develop new lines. Parian ware, stone china and a variation of creamware known as pearlware came out of the victory. Fine majolica and creamware hand painted by Emile Lesore found ready buyers in the latter half of the century. Bone china, made only in small quantities in the 1800s was revived around 1890 and continues today.

Introduction of beautifully designed lustre wares in the 20th century again stimulated demand for Wedgwood products. Butterfly, Dragon, and most particularly Fairyland, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, are avidly sought after by enthusiastic collectors.

Almost all Wedgwood china is clearly marked. ‘Wedgwood’ alone was the impression before 1891, after which ‘England’ was added. Most examples marked ‘Made in England’ were after 1921. Do not confuse these wares with others marked ‘Wedgwood & Co.’ or ‘Wedgwood’, which come from other British factories.

With such a variety spanning well over two centuries, it’s no wonder that Wedgwood Societies in Britain and America gain new members each year and that Wedgwood is one of the most collectable ceramics. -Sharon Payne

Wedgwood Black Basalt Demitasse and SaucerWedgwood Mulberry Lustre Fallow Deer Plate

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