North Staffordshire Pottery Marks
Dating old pottery is difficult - especially one that has been in operation for over 200 years such as Wedgwood.
Manufacturers were not overly concerned about sticking to 'rules' and would interchange marks - using different marks at the same time and using old batches later in the production runs.
This information has been culled from a number of sources - it is given in good faith and believed to be reasonably correct - however if you are going to use it for the basis of valuations, purchases or sales then you must verify it from independent, qualified sources.
Among collectors the term Old Wedgwood is taken to
refer to wares produced before Josiah's death in 1795. Old Wedgwood is
difficult to date. The first examination is of the piece itself. Old
Wedgwood has a character of its own. It is finely crafted and just feels
old. It is impossible to convey that quality in either words or
photographs. The only way to gain an appreciation of the character of
Old Wedgwood is to examine it, with the eye and with the finger tips.
Take every opportunity to do so at shows and auctions.
|The Potters Mark|
The next recourse is to the mark. Josiah started
marking his production with his name in about 1759, impressing the name
into the underside of the article with printer's movable type. The
resulting mark was often uneven and sometime arced. In about 1769 he
adopted the familiar mark with the name impressed from a single slug.
the WEDGWOOD mark is found on useful wares between 1769 and 1781 and on
all wares produced thereafter until the sans serif version of the mark
was introduced in 1929.
|WEDGWOOD and BENTLEY|
It was in 1769 that he formed two
partnerships, Wedgwood and Bentley produced decorative ware with his
good friend, Thomas Bentley. Their production is marked with one or the
other of the several versions of the Wedgwood and Bentley mark. Useful
wares were produced with his cousin, Thomas Wedgwood and bear the
|THE LETTER/NUMBER CODES|
In 1860 the Wedgwood
factory started marking its wares with the date of manufacture impressed
in each piece as part of a three letter code. The first letter of the
code represents the month of manufacture, the second identified the
potter who threw the shape and the last letter signifying the year the
piece was made starting with 0 for 1860. The series was repeated 4
times. From 1907 on in the third series the first letter for the month
is replaced by a 3 and with the fourth series commencing with A in 1924
with the figure 4. There is an area of confusion in wares in the first
two series. For example TOT could mean a piece produced in either June
1865 or June of 1891. Commencing in 1929 the year mark is replaced by the
last two digits of the year, 30 standing for 1930.
Some assistance in resolving the ambiguity in the two series is provided by the month letter. January, February, April, September, October, November and December are always show by their intial letter. June is always T and August is always W. In 1860-1863 March is M, May is Y and July is V. In 1864 March becomes R, May is M and July is L. In 1871 Wedgwood adopted pattern numbers with the code letter prefixes.
After 1891 the word ENGLAND is added
to the WEDGWOOD mark continuing until 1908 when the words MADE IN
ENGLAND replace it in all cases. MADE IN ENGLAND commenced appearing on
some wares as early as 1898 but is not in general use until 1908.
Before the advent of the dating system in 1860 one
must look to other clues to date pieces described as marked WEDGWOOD
only. In Jasper the colour is important. Solid Black Jasper was produced
between 1778 and about 1826; the white body dipped in black between 1778
and 1826 with production resumed in 1844 and continuing to the moderm
era. Pale blue dates the piece between 1775 and 1826. Dark or deep blues
date the piece as before 1820. In general Jasper pieces produced before
1860 were produced before 1826 except for black, blue, green and dipped
pieces and solid white jasper which were resumed in 1844.
Questions/comments/contributions? Steve Birks