Wedgwood, England's finest china company, has been synonymous with beauty, craftsmanship and innovation for almost 250 years.
Josiah Wedgwood worked with an established potter, Thomas Whieldon, until 1759, when relatives leased him the Ivy House in Burslem to allow him to start his own pottery business. The launch of the business was helped by his marriage to a remote cousin, Sarah (also Wedgwood), and her sizeable dowry.
In 1765, Wedgwood created a new earthenware form which impressed the then English Queen, who gave permission to call it "Queen's Ware"; this new form sold extremely well across Europe. Then, in 1766, Wedgwood bought Etruria, a large Staffordshire estate, as both home and factory site. Wedgwood developed a number of further industrial innovations for his company, notably a way of measuring kiln temperatures accurately and new ware types Black Basalt and Jasper Ware (the first colour was the Poland Blue and for its innovation Josiah Wedgwood experimented with more than 3,000 samples). In recognition of the importance of his work, Josiah Wedgwood was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1783. Today, the Wedgwood Prestige collection sells replicas of some of the original designs, as well as modern neo-classical style jasper ware.
The main themes on the company's jasper ware have all been taken from ancient mythologies: Roman, Greek or Egyptian. The initial decision to have antique designs was probably that as Britain entered an age of great industrialization, the demand for luxurious goods subsequently exploded.
Wedgwood had increasing success with hard paste porcelain attempting to imitate the whiteness of tea-ware imported from China, which was extremely popular with high society. The high transportation costs and the vigorous long journey from the Far East meant that the supply of china could not keep up with the increasingly high demand. Towards the end of the eighteenth century other Staffordshire manufacturers introduced bone china as an alternative to translucent and delicate Chinese porcelain.
In 1812 Wedgwood produced their own bone china. Though not a commercial success at first Wedgwood's English Fine Bone China eventually became an important part of an extremely profitable business.
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