Wedgwood Showroom


Queen'sware Cockle Pot c.1780
In 1754 Josiah Wedgwood went into partnership with one Thomas Whieldon, probably the leading potter of his day. Josiah Wedgwood first produced wares on his own account at the Ivy House Works in Burslem. As his business expanded, he needed more space and so moved to the Brick House or Bell Works in 1762. In 1762 Josiah met Thomas Bentley, and they became close friends. Bentley was a merchant, and primarily interested in the business end of the enterprise. He organized the marketing and export of goods, and building the reputation of Wedgwood. Josiah concentrated on the technical aspects of the business, although he had a natural flair for marketing. He studied and experimented with glazes and clays, and developed his talent as a salesman and entrepreneur. The beautiful creamware, patented in 1763, became a particular favorite of Queen Charlotte, Wife of George III. Wedgwood asked the Queen's permission to call the ware 'Queensware'. The marketing technique was a spectacular success.

By 1766, Wedgwood had prospered sufficiently to buy the Ridge House Estate in Staffordshire. There he built a wonderful new factory, which he named Eturia. The Wedgwood Company was to remain at this site for over 170 years.

Basalte ware
Wedgwood developed the techniques for manufacture of Basalte ware and Jasper ware. The black Basalte first produced in 1768 was named after the Egyptian rock, so fashionable at the time, and proved highly popular. The English patent for this particular decoration called for "a white Earth from Ayoree, in North America", which was found in Cherokee county near Franklin, N.C. Wedgwood had been working to develop this type of ceramic body in the 1760's, but the supply of clay from the Americas was difficult and expensive.
In 1771 Wedgwood commenced serious trials meant to find a way to use locally available materials for his new idea of pottery inspired by the ancient Roman Portland Vase. After literally thousands of experiments over 3 years, he finally produced a dense white stoneware using barium sulphate, obtained locally, which tinted easily. Resulting in the classical revival style Jasper ware. To make Jasper ware decorations, in the Neoclassical style and usually white, were made in separate moulds and applied to the colored body, characteristically blue, of the piece.
Jasper ware

In 1774, Josiah Wedgwood opened a showroom in St. James Square at York Street in Westminster. The showroom became a fashionable place for ladies to meet, and browse through the companys' wares. This was one of the very first shops, as we know them, ever opened. Until then, goods were custom ordered rather than ready made stock on hand in a store. Wedgwood's showrooms actually created a market, rather than fulfilling one.

Wedgwood collaborated with the Duke of Bridgewater in the building of the first canal, the Trent and Mersey, completed in 1777. The canal allowed Wedgwood to bring Cornish clay to Eturia, and the delivery of the completed ware safely. A great improvement compared with the traditional road transport, which inevitably caused much breakage.

When Josiah Wedgwood died in 1795, his sons Josiah II, John Wedgwood and nephew Tom Byerley formed the partnership of Wedgwood & Byerley. The Wedgwood and Byerley factory, Eturia, at Ridge House Estate in Staffordshire is included in J. Allbut and Sons " Map of the Potteries of 1802".

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