18th Century Classic Revival's Influence on English Pottery Josiah Wedgwood & Jaspar Ornamental Wares
Lorena O. Allen, M.Ed., Fine Art & Antique Appraiser
JOSIAH WEDGWOOD'S POTTERY FACTORY
As seen in Antiques & Art Around Florida, Winter/Spring 2009
Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) came from a long line of potters, whose family had owned factories in Burslem and Stoke-on-Trent since the Elizabethan days. He initially was apprenticed as a "thrower" on the pottery wheel, later becoming a master potter and member of the British Royal Society. Wedgwood established his own factory "Etruria Hall" in Burslem in 1769 and with partner Thomas Bentley, began experimenting with mixtures of the clay later to famously be known as "Jaspar". Wedgwood’s British pottery factory flourished during the era of a classic revival and passionate interest in ancient Roman and Greek antiquities. He acquired expert craftsmen including artists, chemists, modellers, glazers, ornamenters and enamelers.
Initially Jasper was reserved for portrait medallions, which were also made into jewelry or incorporated into furniture, fireplace surrounds and desk accessories such as the leather box and album set with blue Jaspar medallions within brass cartouches.
Later, the factory produced ornamental wares including vases, busts, plaques, candelabra and jardinieres. One of the most famous modelers working for Josiah Wedgwood was William Hackwood, who remained with Wedgwood over sixty years.
Attributed to Hackwood is an oval plaque with white figures in bas relief upon a blue Jaspar ground depicting "Erato, The Muse of Love Poetry" Circa 1778. (below).
AUTHENTICATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF MARKS ON WEDGWOOD JASPAR
Since there are several imitators of Wedgwood Jaspar, it is important for collectors to examine the pieces for identifying marks. Earlier wares of Jasper are simply marked "wedgwood" (1759-69). The earliest Wedgwood & Bentley wares, circa 1769, had an impressed mark forming a circle with both names.
Some earlier wares are impressed with "Eturia-Burslem" or "Wedgwood -England". The impressed mark "Made in England" signifies a late 19th Century to current piece. Wedgwood has an elaborate system of Date codes used to identify age, whereby the last letter of a three letter mark denotes the year of manufacture; for instance "**0" would be. Circa 1860; from 1924 the letter "4" replaces the first letter; 4*A becomes Circa 1924. In addition, items such as biscuit barrels with attached silver handles have silver hallmarks as well as the impressed marks of Wedgwood. (Shown above, collection of the author).
COLLECTING AND VALUING WEDGWOOD JASPAR
Collecting Jasper ornamental wares is not only a pleasurable hobby but also an investment. Prices have risen to new levels over the last ten years and 18th -19th century pieces are especially highly prized by collectors although costs of production have led to lower quality and mass production in the late 20th century. In 1986, Waterford Glass Group purchased Wedgwood, renaming it Waterford-Wedgwood.
Rare and beautiful Jaspar wares consistently turn up in the auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christies as well as smaller galleries and regional auction houses. Earlier ornamental wares such as jardinieres, urns and plaques are commanding prices of $400-$1,700.00; If a collector is lucky enough to find a pair of tri-color urns the price may be $5,000.
Besides studying the many museum collections it is a good learning experience to attend regional auctions, handle the pieces and study the marks for age, quality and rarity.
Collections of Wedgwood Jaspar in American museums include The Art Institute of Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland Museums, Ohio, Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California and the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida.
Serious collectors at some point usually belong to The Wedgwood Collectors Society of America or The Wedgwood Society of England.
About the author:Lorena O. Allen, M.Ed., President of L. Allen Appraisal Studios, Inc., is a fine art appraiser/consultant and certified member of Appraisers Association of America and International Society of Appraisers. Ms. Allen lectures to museums, antique societies and other groups. Address: P.O. Box 2543, Winter Park, Florida 32790. Tel: 407-671-1139; email: email@example.com
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