Thursday, December 29, 2011

A short history of jasperware

Josiah Wedgwood's jasperware was the triumphant outcome of more than 5,000 experiments. Jasperware was his most important contribution to ceramic art, and ranks among the most significant innovations in ceramic history since the Chinese invention of porcelain nearly a thousand years earlier. The physical qualities which made jasper especially suited to applied Neoclassical ornament helped Wedgwood achieve an unwavering mass popularity in the late 18th century, which continues today. No other ornamental style has attracted such a popular market over so long a period of time.

Jasperware is a form of pottery that is characterized by its matte appearance. Josiah Wedgwood is credited with having come up with the first Jasperware. Wedgwood was an English potter. His grandson is Charles Darwin. When Josiah was in his twenties he began to work with Thomas Whieldon. While working there, Josiah began experimenting with different pottery techniques. He soon leased a company called Ivy Works

His early pottery was considered of high quality. He was rumored to smash works that did not meet his standards. Many members of the British nobility also enjoyed his work. Wedgwood's work was not beloved by only Brits. Empress Catherine of Russia requested a Green Frog Service. It can still be seen in the Hermitage Museum. 

He soon upgraded his business to the new Etruria Works. The name was inspired by the Etruria District that was currently excavating black porcelain. In later years Josiah spent most of his time attempting to duplicate the Portland Vase. In 1789 he finally came up with an acceptable duplicate. Wedgwood is still one of the most famous names in pottery. His Jasperware is often referred to as Wedgwood China. 

If you have authentic Wedgwood Jasperware it may be marked with varying marks. If you are lucky to have a piece that dates back before 1860 it will be simply marked as Wedgwood with a single letter. An item after 1860 will be marked with a letter to represent the year, the potter and the month. In the years 1891-1908 the bottom will say Wedgwood and England. Up until 1969 the markings would say Wedgwood and Made in England or Wedgwood England if the item is small. The most recent markings will say Wedgwood Made in England.

Here are the photo of samples of Wedgwood jasperware colour trials:

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