Wedgwood: A Pottery Pioneer

Wedgwood is a renowned English brand of fine china, porcelain, and luxury accessories that has been in existence for over 260 years. It was founded by Josiah Wedgwood, a visionary potter and entrepreneur who revolutionized the ceramic industry with his innovations and creations. In this blog post, I will give you a brief overview of the history of Wedgwood, from its origins to its present-day achievements.

The Origins of Wedgwood

Josiah Wedgwood was born in 1730 into a family of potters in Burslem, Staffordshire, the heart of the English pottery industry. He showed an early talent and passion for pottery, and apprenticed with his elder brother Thomas. He later worked with Thomas Whieldon, one of the leading potters of the time, where he learned and experimented with various types of clay, glazes, and colors. In 1759, at the age of 29, he decided to start his own pottery business in Burslem, with the help of some partners and investors. He soon established himself as a master potter, producing high-quality and innovative wares, such as creamware, black basalt, and jasperware1

The Success of Wedgwood

Wedgwood’s pottery quickly gained popularity and recognition, both in England and abroad, for its beauty, durability, and affordability. He attracted the patronage of the royal family, especially Queen Charlotte, who ordered a set of creamware that was named “Queen’s Ware” in her honor. He also received commissions from other European monarchs, such as Catherine the Great of Russia, who ordered a large service of jasperware with scenes of English landscapes. He also exported his wares to the American colonies, where they were admired by the likes of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin2

Wedgwood was not only a skilled potter, but also a savvy businessman and marketer. He used various strategies to promote and sell his products, such as direct mail, money-back guarantee, free delivery, celebrity endorsement, illustrated catalogues, and buy one get one free. He also created a network of showrooms and agents across Europe and America, where customers could see and buy his wares. He also invested in research and development, and collaborated with other artists and scientists, such as John Flaxman, William Blake, and Erasmus Darwin. He also supported social causes, such as the abolition of slavery, and was a member of the Lunar Society, a group of intellectuals and innovators3

The Legacy of Wedgwood

Wedgwood died in 1795, leaving behind a thriving and successful business that was continued by his sons and descendants. The Wedgwood company survived and adapted to the changing tastes and styles of the 19th and 20th centuries, producing new and diverse products, such as bone china, majolica, and art pottery. It also acquired and merged with other pottery companies, such as Etruria, Barlaston, and Waterford Crystal. It also established a museum, a library, and a school, to preserve and promote the heritage and excellence of Wedgwood and British pottery.

Today, Wedgwood is still one of the most prestigious and respected brands of fine china, porcelain, and luxury accessories in the world. It is owned by Fiskars, a Finnish consumer goods company, and has a global presence and appeal. It is also a Royal Warrant holder, meaning that it supplies goods to the British royal family. It continues to produce new and original designs, as well as classic and iconic pieces, such as the Portland Vase, the Fairyland Lustre, and the Jasperware. Wedgwood is a pottery pioneer, that has shaped and influenced the history and culture of ceramics for over two centuries.

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