Wedgwood is rather a special name. Nearly everybody has heard it and nearly everybody will immediately have an image that springs to mind.
The story is, after all, a fascinating one. It is a success story like no other. Josiah Wedgwood's flair and talents were exceptional and his rise to fame was steep. Having trained in Staffordshire with one of the best potters of his time, Thomas Whieldon, he set up his own factory in 1759. As a natural innovator who had developed his skills with Whieldon, the climate of industrial revolution suited him perfectly. He saw the advantages of factory production ahead of many others, and having already done well enough to justify the investment, established purpose-built factory premises at Etruria in 1769. He never made the mistake of compromising quality and this earned him the best of reputations.
He also occasionally designed or suggested designs. They were among the first to regularly mark their work as a guarantee of quality to their customers. They were also the first to establish a factory showroom in London devoted to their wares, affirming the exclusive nature of the work. And, in a world that had always prized porcelain, they were the first to make pottery fashionable and desirable. Add to all this Josiah's constant and successful experimentation with ceramic bodies, glazes and decorations, and his reputation and that of his factory now becomes more fully understandable.
The Wedgwood factory's reputation for quality continues, and in the 20th century we have seen notable contributions to contemporary style, often under the guidance of well-known designers
NOTE: This article which originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today', is based mainly upon accounts provided mainly by the firms themselves.
questions / comments? email: Steve Birks