WEDGWOOD: Moulding the Definition of Good

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Wedgwood is porcelain, fine China, and Magnificence Company established on 1 May 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood. In 1987, the company formed a merger with another company called Waterford Crystal to establish Waterford Wedgwood.

In 2009, the major assets of Waterford Wedgwood were bought over by another company known as PSK Capital Partners. It was at this time the name of the business changed to Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton abbreviated as WWRD. It was later taken over in July 2015 by Fiskars Corporation.

The History of Wedgwood

Josiah Wedgewood – photo by Flickr | foundin_a_attic

At the very beginning, Josiah Wedgwood worked with Thomas Whieldo who was a renowned potter until 1759, when relatives leased him a building that offered him the opportunity to begin his own pottery business. His marriage to Sarah Wedgwood assisted him to establish his new business.

In 1765, Wedgwood came up with a new type of creamware, which overwhelmed the then British consort who gave formal authorisation to name it Queen’s Ware. This new product sold very well all over Europe. In 1766, Wedgwood went ahead and bought over Etruria, which was used as a home and factory. Wedgwood developed some other industrial innovations for his company, which was regarded as a method of measuring furnace temperature correctly and the new types of Jasperware and Black Basalt.

The Jasperware, made to look like prehistoric cameo glass, was the best-known product of Wedgwood. This product was enthused by the Portland Vase, and it is now a museum piece. Portland Blue was the foremost jasperware colour and it was modernism that needed experiments with over 3,000 samples.

In 1783, Josiah Wedgwood was chosen as a member of the Royal Society, in appreciation of the significance of his pyrometric beads. The Wedgwood Prestige collection sold imitations of the innovative designs and contemporary neo-classical style jasperware.

Wedgwood Aphrodite Covered Box in White on Portland Blue Jasperware – photo by 1stDibs

The most important Wedgwood designs in jasperware – and as can be found in other wares such as caneware, queens ware, and basalt ware among others– were ornamental designs that were extremely influenced by the prehistoric cultures being rediscovered and studied at that time, particularly as Great Britain was growing its empire. Quite a lot of motifs were got from the earliest mythologies, including the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. In the meantime, archaeological eagerness caught the imagination of a lot of artists.

There was nothing that could have been more appropriate to please this enormous business demand than to manufacture copies of the prehistoric artifacts. Numerous depictions of nobles, royalty, and statesmen in silhouette were made including political symbols. These were frequently set in architectural features and jewellery, such as mouldings, fireplace mantels, and furniture. Wedgwood has honoured many individuals from America and corporations also, both in the past and in recent times.

18th Century Wedgwood Creamware Cup and Saucer – photo by Bardith

In 1774, he engaged John Flaxman to work as an artist and the agreement was that this 19-year-old boy would work for the next 12 years for Wedgwood. His popular design would be The Dancing Hours. There are some other artists who have actually worked for Wedgwood in the past.

As far as hard paste porcelain was concerned, Wedgwood recorded a huge success. This work tried to mimic the whiteness of tea-ware that was imported all the way from China, and it was a highly popular product in the high society. Other manufacturers from Staffordshire brought in bone china as an option to delicate and translucent Chinese porcelain, just before the end of the 18th century.

Wedgwood Company created its own bone china in the year 1812. Despite the fact that it wasn’t a commercial success at the initial stage, it eventually turned out to be an essential element of a very profitable business. Scores of Josiah Wedgwood offspring were personally involved in the operation of the business up to the period of the merger with the Waterford Company.

Waterford Wedgwood

Wedgwood Waterford Cornucopia Fine Bone China Salad Plate, 8 Inch – photo by eBay

In 1986, Waterford Glass Group Plc acquired Wedgwood Plc and the group was renamed as Waterford Wedgwood Plc.

Wedgwood established a partnership with Jasper Conran in 2001, and began the white fine bone china assortment and later extended to comprise of seven patterns. But the KPS Capital Partners bought over the assets of Waterford Wedgwood in March 2009. These Assets are the Royal Doulton, Waterford, and Wedgwood, which were invested in WWRD Holdings Limited.

The WWRD Holdings Limited

On 5 January 2009, Waterford Wedgwood was put in administration on going concern basis with 1,800 workers left with the company. This was after many years of financial challenges at the group level, and when a share placement failed in the 2008 global financial crisis. On 27 February 2009, Deloitte proclaimed that KPS Capital partners had bought specific UK and Irish assets of Waterford Wedgwood, and the assets of its Irish and UK subsidiaries

Wedgwood Museums and the Museum Trust

Plate from the Green Frog Service, 1773 Courtesy The Wedgwood Museum – photo by Art Fund

As early as 1774, the founder of Wedgwood wrote that he wished he had preserved samples of all the works of the company, and he started doing so from that moment. In May 1906, the earliest formal museum was launched with a curator at the major works. For the period of the Second World War, all the items in the museum were stored and re-launched in a gallery in 1952. In 1975, a new purpose-built visitor centre and a museum were built and remodeled in 1985, with pieces exhibited close to items from the old factory works in cabinets of the same period.

A video theatre was also added while a new endowment shop and an expanded demonstration place, where guests could watch pottery was made. Additional redecoration was performed in the year 2000, such as access to the major factory. There were a tea room and a restaurant, adjacent to the visitor center and the museum to serve Wedgwood ware. In the year 2000, the museum, being managed by a devoted trust, closed down and reopened in a new expensive building on 24 October 2008.