|Shaw's - History of the Staffordshire Potteries - originally published in 1829
Chapter 7 - continuation..... - Extension of the Manufacture of Cream Colour - Mr Wedgwood's Queen Ware, Jasper and Appointment of Potter to Her Majesty - Black Printing
next: Chapter 8 - Introduction of Porcelain
previous: Chapter 7 - Introduction of fluid glaze
contents: index of Shaw's book
[these headings are not in the original - they are added for ease of reading]
|Improvements of Cream Colour
|Dispute over the invention of cream ware
|Improvements attached to Wedgwood
|W & J Taylor at Greenhead, Burslem
|Wedgwood & Harrison
|Josiah Wedgwood returns to Burslem
|T. and J. Wedgwood reduce their manufacture
|Josiah Wedgwood 'rising into celebrity'
|Wedgwood's improved Cream Ware
|Wedgwood loans 'the finest specimens'
|Wedgwood's presentation to Queen Charlotte
|Wedgwood advocates canal
|Lawton family works for Wedgwood
|The Engine Lathe
|Wedgwood at Etruria
|Pay of modellers at Wedgwood's
|The Barberini (Portland) Vase
|Wedgwood's imitation of the Vase
In 1751, were made the last improvements of Cream Colour, (prior to those of the late Mr. Wedgwood,) by Mrs. Warburton, of Hot Lane, who had been at the trial of the Patent-right of R. Shaw; and was the mother of Jacob Warburton, Esq.; and also by Mr. John Baddeley, of Shelton, a good potter and very worthy man.
The fine appearance of both body and glaze securing to the cream Colour general approbation, it became the staple ware of the district.
Concerning this kind of Pottery Dr. Aikin truly remarked, that
Mr. Parkes allows this culogium; and yet, in another place, says
gentleman from some splenetic motive, has supplied the public with the most incongruous accounts of Pottery and its connections, possible to be catenated by a person who had resided some years in the parish town of the district. A little research, and candour in statements would have rendered him respectable; and not a
subject of disgust to every well-informed Potter.
The Pottery differing in quality and glaze to any before manufactured, trial was made of the adequacy of its glaze to bear fine designs of the enameller. This was first practised by some Dutchmen, in Hot Lane; who, to preserve their operations secret, had their muffle in a garden at Bagnall, the property of Mr. Adams.
Mr. Daniel, of Cobridge, was the first native who practised enamelling. Workmen were soon employed, from Bristol, Chelsea, Worcester, and Liverpool, where Tiles had long heen made of Stone Ware and Porcelain; and who had been accustomed to enamel them upon the white glaze, and occasionally to paint them under the glaze.
For some years the branch of Enamelling was conducted by persons wholly unconnected with the manufacture of the Pottery; in some instances altogether for the manufacturers; in others on the private account of the Enamellers; but when there was great demand for these ornamented productions, a few of the mure opulent manufacturers necessarily connected this branch with the others.
At first, the enamellers embellished merely the tasteful productions, figures, jars,
cornucopiæ, &c. and the rich carved work on the vessels; then they painted groups of flowers, figures, and
birds; and at length they copied upon their breakfast and dessert sets, the designs of the richest oriental porcelain.
The discovery of this kind of Pottery is already mentioned as accidental; and yet with the facts before their eyes, many different persons have wished to claim the merit of being the inventor; in consequence, probably, of each being at the same time busily engaged in experiments to improve both body and glaze of the Pottery he manufactured. The greater part of mankind are too lazy to think for themselves; neither will they bo at the trouble to investigate facts, and consider the credibility of the evidence adduced. Some wished to ascribe the merit of this invention to the Messrs. Elers, already mentioned; others doubted this, because in the time of William and Mary, as well as Anne, very excellent Crouch Ware was made in Burslem, and some White ornamented Ware. The small size of the oven, whose foundations were then undisturbed, was also stated as an objection; and considerable difference of opinion existed, until a remarkable occurrence called their attention to themselves, and caused them to congitate on their own listlessness and indifference.
During the time the other manufacturers were discussing this knotty point of dispute on the Ale Benches at home, one of the number was making arrangements in London, by which all the merit of the improvement attached itself unto him.
This was the late deservedly celebrated Josiah Wedgwood, Esq. The fact is as true as it is remarkable, that the children of genius appear as eccentric in their
situations and dispositions, as are the delights with which they frequently astonish their compeers; and that many persons, in subsequent life distinguished for
extraordinary productions, of genius or persevering industry, have been born and educated amidst scenes and
circumstances least likely to foster that ability, for whose exertions they have become notorious. He was born in August, 1730, in a small tenement near the Church yard works, Burslem, then occupied and owned by his father, Thomas Wedgwood. His early education was very limited; and in fact, scarcely any person of Burslem learned more than mere reading and writing, until about 1750, when some individuals endowed the Free School, for instructing youth to read the Bible, write a fair hand, and know the four primary rules of Arithmetic. At the early age of eleven years he worked for his father, as a thrower; and John Fletcher remembers
being engaged to make balls for his master's sons, Josiah and Richard, both throwers, seated at two comers of a small room, and he placed between them, for which he was paid
four-pence weekly, for the first year, six-pence, for the second, and
nine pence for the third. Richard enlisted for a soldier.
I. Fletcher next worked for the brothers, W. and John Taylor, of the Greenhead, about 30 yards above Hankerses Well, and had 2s. per week to turn the lathe for W. T. He afterwards was apprenticed for six years to these persons, to learn to handle, and stick legs to the Red Porcelain and black glazed Teapots, at 2s. 3d. for the first year, and an additional 3d. each year,— the highest wages then given, and paid him because he had already acquired considerable knowledge of different parts of the business, he was hired for 5s. 6d. a week for his first year as a journeyman. At this manufactory was made the first Posset Cup, which would contain five pints, and was ornamented in the best style of the time. The workman was Mr. John Broad, of Chesterton, son of the Mr. Broad, already mentioned as intimate with the Messrs. Elers; and uncle of Richard Broad, near fifty years in the service of Lord Crewe.
Messrs. J. and W. Taylor soon built each a dwelling house; the former at the hill top, the latter at the top of the Jornell; and then they commenced making White Stone Ware. They mixed for their Red Porcelain clay, one part of Bradwell Red clay, and four parts of the hill top clay. William Taylor, son of one of these persons, was interred at Burslem, Feb. 5th, 1829, aged 90 years.
Mr. J. W. continued serving his father, until compelled to desist, from throwing, by a disorder of his leg, (which being much hurt while in partnership, with Mr. Harrison, at Stoke, terminated in
mortification, and was amputated.) He went to reside at Stoke with Mr. Daniel Mayer, (a mercer and draper, whose descendants now reside at Hanley; and who erected the largest and best residence of the time opposite Hanley Chapel, for the business of a Tailor,
Draper. and Man's Mercer.) While residing here, be made and supplied the tradesmen of Birmingham and Sheffield with Earthenware Hafts for Table Knives,
&c. in imitation of Agate, Tortoiseshell, Marble, and other kinds; many specimens of which yet remain in the neighbourhood.
Mr. Wedgwood here entered into partnership with Mr. Harrison, a tradesman of Newcastle, (father of the late Mr. John Harrison, banker, of Stoke,)
and at Mr. J. Aldersea's manufactory, he made diiferent kinds of Pottery scratched and blue, then in demand; and probably here began to employ his latent talent for speculation in different articles; for, Mr.
H. being unwilling to supply further funds, a separation resulted. He afterwards, in partnership with Mr. T.
Whieldon, manufactured Agate Hafts, Tortoiseshell and Mellon Table Plates,
Green Pickle Leaves, and other useful articles; but this was not long continued; for, as Mr. Whieldon found his manufactory very
productive, (and he by it amassed £10,000, a very large fortune in those
days,) he was satisfied, and was unwilling to commence the manufacture of kinds of
Pottery then in embryo, but continued this manufacture, at Fenton Low, until about
Mr. Josiah Wedgwood returned to Burslem, about 1760, and commenced Business alone, at the small manufactory (at that time thatched, as usual,) to be seen from the bar of the Leopard Inn; very near that of his distant relations, Messrs. T. and J. Wedgwood, and only a short distance from that of his father.
Here he continued the manufacture of Knife Hafts, Green Tiles, Tortoiseshell and Marble Plates, glazed with lead ore, for his previously formed connections; and his attention
to their demands soon secured him such a share of business, that he engaged a second small manufactory, only across the high road, and where is the Turk's Head tavern. Here he
manufactured the White Stone Pottery, then increasing in demand; and there yet remain of this kind, white Tiles, with
relief figures, of a Heron fishing, and a Spewing-Duck fountain.
This relief method was very advantageous, when the Jasper was invented, and the other dry bodies used ; for the ground could be
of any colour, by employing a metallic calc, and the relief figure remain a beautiful white, or any colour deemed requisite.
The brothers T. and J. Wedgwood, of the Big House, were now rapidly retrenching their manufacture; and they wholly retired from it in 1763; a most pertinent illustration, that every man is the maker or marrer of his own fortune; that, hs who depends upon incessant industry and integrity, depends on patrons the most noble, the most exalted, and who never desert; but are the founders of families the creators of fortune and fame, controuling all human dealings, and converting even unfortunate vicissitudes into beneficial results.
Mr. Josiah Wedgwood continued industrious and persevering; and certainly, there was room then for such a person, in a manufacture gradually rising into celebrity; and in whose several branches he soon acquired eminence.
Britain was now destined to behold him render the manufacture of Pottery
celebrated in a degree it had never previously acquired; and delineating for himself a Portrait which history will present to the civilised globe, until the mysterious and oblivious mantle of destruction be
thrown over all mortal productions, and Art, fancy, and fiction, are for ever engulphed in the immortal brilliancy and
radiance of truth.
There was increased demand for the Cream Colour, made with fluid lead glaze, by Mr. Enoch Booth's method, and which had been much improved in qualify by different persons, especially by John Greatbatch, (who made what has long been called the best China Glaze applied to cream colour; and also first made for Messrs. Ralph and John Baddeley, of Shelton, their Blue printed glaze.)
Mr. Wedgwood therefore commenced the manufacture of improved cream colour, with
Greatbatch's glaze; for which he soon had such demand, that he engaged a third manufactory, named to this day, the
Bell Works, because of a Bell being first used to call the workmen to their labour. The specimens of his
first table plates are excellent; but very shortly afterwards he made such additions and alterations in both body and glaze, as
gained for his pottery, deservedly the highest character for excellence. At the present day it remains unrivalled, tho' by one or two manufacturers almost equalled; and respectable potters declare that the difficulty in
making the excellent cream colour for which Etruria is distinguished, has caused several manufacturers, who attempted to imitate it, to desist, and continue their former processes.
Mr. W. about this time opened a warehouse in London, to supply Merchants and Dealers, and as a depot where every article produced by the ingenuity of workmen, might be inspected by the curious. He had a partner named Bentley, to manage the London Business, said to have united to considerable natural ability, accurate and extensive knowledge of many departments of Literature and Science; and to have possessed a valuable circle of acquaintance of persons celebrated for talent and property, and eminent for skill and research concerning Grecian and other foreign productions of artists, as Patrons of the Fine Arts.
From these virtuosi were obtained loans of the finest specimens of sculpture—
Vases, Busts, Cameos, Intaglios Medallions, Seals, &c. suitable for the potters' display of ability; and also Prints, and Drawings, of invaluable utility to any person of ingenuity and
industry. Some supplied complete sets of oriental Porcelain; and Sir William Hamilton supplied specimens from Herculaneum,
which all were successfully and accurately copied by Mr. Wedgwood's ingenious
workmen. The production of these imitations of those of Greece & Rome, & the finest designs of antiquity, some of which excelled the original Etruscan productions in colour, elegance, firmness, and durability, being
noticed in the current periodicals became known in town and country; and were viewed with admiration at all the Courts of Europe, and demanded by dealers for sale, in Holland, France, Germany, and
Russia; and most of the visitors to the Marquis of Stafford, at
Trentham, rode over to Burslem, and in later years, to Etruria, to inspect the manufactures. On this account were attributed to Mr. W. by his acquaintance, all the merit in the art of Pottery, of not only all persons who had preceded him, but also of those who were his rivals and contemporaries.
Mr. Wedgwood having had the honour to present unto her Majesty Queen Charlotte, a Candle Sett, made of the best cream colour, and painted in the best style of the day by Thomas Daniel and Daniel Steele; the very neat and clean appearance of the Pottery caused her Majesty to wish for a complete Table Service of the same kind.
Patterns of the several pieces were submitted for inspection, and were approved, with the exception of the Plate, (which was the common barley-corn pattern, then making by all the salt glaze manufacturers.) Her Majesty objected to the roughness, (the barley-corn work, as it is called,) therefore this part was made plain, on the edge was left only the bands marking the compartments; and being approved by her Majesty, the pattern wa$ called Queen's Pattern; the pottery was named QUEEN'S WAKE, and Mr. W. honoured with the appointment of Potter to her Majesty.
On the service being completed, His Majesty was pleased to order another; without the bands or ribs, and only a plain surface. This alteration the workmen effected to the entire satisfaction of his Majesty; and it forms the Royal Pattern; some little alterations being made also in the figure of some other articles.
And now under Royal Patronage, Mr. W. had as many orders for Table Services of Queen's
Ware, as he could possibly manufacture, and at prices the most
liberal— fifteen shillings per dozen for table plates, and all the
other pieces in the same proportion. The table plates subsequently made for common
use, were the Bath or Trencher, from its resemblance to the wooden platter; then a concave-edge; and recently the forms have been numerous and various.
Mr. Wedgwood now invented his truly elegant JASPER, which will bear his name to the remotest posterity. It is a beautiful and fine pottery, which can be so coloured with the calc of certain minerals, but usually cobalt, for blue, that any determined part may be of the desired colour, and yet leave any other part delicate and beautiful white.
Was this the man who divulged the seaet of the Cauk Stone? Mr. W. about this time commenced making Busts in BLACK EGYPTIAN; this kind of Pottery being very appropriate; and his excelling in fineness and blackness any which had preceded it, he contemplated securing the manufacture by Letters Patent; but ultimately relinquished the intention; because convinced that other persons previously had made Black Pottery.
By using the Jasper and the Black solely for articles of nominal value, purchaseable chiefly by persons of rank and affluence, the manufacturer was eulogized wherever the articles were exhibited. Mr. Wedgwood, when become opulent, at the height of celebrity, was highly exemplary and praiseworthy; exciting in the young a laudable emulation to attain the hononr and dignity of great men.
Aware of the disadvantages of the district by
circuitous and hilly highways, he exerted himself to promote their improvement; and was partially successful. The Canal from the Trent to the Mersey was by him boldly
advocated he cut the first clod, July 17th, 1760, and acting from his views of benefits likely to result from it, he promoted it, and derived satisfaction from
witnessing its completion, in 1777.
Richard Lawton, (seventy-nine years old, May 1829,) was apprenticed to Messrs. Wedgwood and Bentley, at the Bell Works, to learn
turning. His father, Thomas Lawton, made for these gentlemen the first, slip for Egyptian black; and was well acquainted with the method of making the slip for the
Red Porcelain, made by Elers, at Bradwell, many years before; and by T. and J. Wedgwood, only a short time
previously; having been their servant several years. Old T. L. being intimate with an old man named Bourne, a bricklayer, resident at Chesterton, near to Bradwell, obtained from him many tea pots, Red and Black, dry body, without any kind of glaze, made by Elers, and preserved by the oldest families of
the place; and which specimens,
From Mr. Bourne, T. Lawton learned
further, and informed Messrs. Wedgwood and Bentley, that Elers used only
the red clay of Bradwell, and the ochre from near Chesterton, for their Pottery; — and he likewise had some of the materials brought, which vere properly weighed by Daniel
Greatbach, one of their foremen, and after being prepared as clay by T. Lawton, were made into articles which suggested their best Black Egyptian.
R. Lawton well remembered seeing many of these specimens; but never heard that any
glazed Pottery, by salt, or other materials, was made by Elers for it was the prevalent opinion, that they chose the spot, because of the red clay, and nearness to coals.
About 1765, Thomas Greatbach, turner, at Mr. Palmer's, Hauley, suggested the movements which form the Engine Lathe, to the noted lath maker, Mr. John Baddeley, of Eastwood; and worked upon it some years afterwards. Mr. Wedgwood offered eighty guineas each for six, provided Mr. B. would not sell any under that price to other persons. This was not accepted; Charles Chatterley had two made, on one of which were turned several ornamental vases, &c. given to the author by his father-in-law, after he had carefully preserved them more than forty years.
Mr. W. engaged Mr. Cox, of Birmingham, to make his; and on the
first of his productions, worked old James Bourne, at the Bell works, about
1766; at any rate, before the commencement of erecting the present Etruria.
The demise of Mrs. Wedgwood's only brother, brought into the hands of Mr. Wedgwood a further accession of wealth, and he purchased the estate called Ridge House; below which, on the line of the Canal, be erected the Black Works, in 1768, and the other in 1770.
He also erected houses for his men, and for himself a beautiful Mansion, calling the place Etruria, after the celebrated Manufactory of Pottery in Italy. This manufactory having ready conveyance by canal, for Materials and Productions, from and to all
parts of the kingdom, in 1771 he removed altogether from Burslem, and
here he greatly extended his manufactures, and rapidly acquired a princely fortune.
A person named Leigh, (father to Ralph Leigh, before mentioned,) occupied Ridge House, prior to the Estate being
purchased by Mr. Wedgwood. When the Rebels were at Leek (in 1745),) the whole population of this neighbourhood
experienced a complete panic. Old Mr. L. was fearful of being killed by the enemy; and having saved sixty guineas, he hid them under an oak tree, (now standing on
the Race Course,) which he shewed to his son, while the tears trickled down bis
cheek. In one of the fields of the estate, there was a great quantity of broom
(genista,) and all the horses, carts, and the only waggon of this part, were brought into the broom field, in hopes that the height of the broom would hide the whole
and prevent their being seized by the enemy.
The following are two among many honourable proofs of Mr. W's. kindness and integrity as a Master:—
When the Barberini Vase was on sale, Mr. W. regarded it as a subject, a copy of which would he readily purchased by persons
totaly unable to purchase the original. He therefore continued to exceed each bidding of a Noble Duchess,
(Portland,) until the Duke, on ascertaining the motive of this
apparently impudent opposition, offered the loan of it, for
indefinite time, should the opposition be withdrawn; thus her Grace became the purchaser at the Price of 1800
Guineas; the original and a fac simile are now deposited in the British Museum.
Mr. Wedgwood's Porcelain imitation of the Vase, is for its elegance and beauty entitled to all the commendation it has received. In its completion neither expense nor care was regarded; and tho' he sold the fifty for Fifty Pounds each to the Subscribers, yet if Mr. Byerley be entitled to credit, the expenditure exceeded the subscription.
Mr. Carver, an engraver, employed by Messrs. Sadler and Green, of Liverpool, having invented a method by which devices from engraved copper plates can be printed upon the glaze, (now called Black Printing,) Mr. Wedgwood employed the waggon belonging to Mr. Morris, the carrier, of Lawton, once a fortnight, to take down a load of cream colour to be printed in this improved manner, by Messrs. S. & G. and return with the load previously taken for that purpose. The specimens are beautiful; and a tea service well authenticated to have been sent down in 1767, from the Bell Works, is excellent in quality, and very fine in embellishment.
The tea ware required to be painted, was sent for that purpose to Mrs. Astbury, in Hot Lane,- which was sold, packed, and sent away from Burslem; and some time elapsed before Mr. W. had the enamelling executed on his own premises.
About this time Thomas Rothwell, possessed of great skill as an enameller, engraver, and printer, was employed by Mr. Palmer, at Hanley, and specimens yet remaining evince considerable ability; but like all the other attempts, they do not equal the productions of S. and G. for Mr. Wedgwood. As several persons were now employed by Messrs. S. and G. Baker, offered his services to any of the manufacturers in the district, as a printer on the glaze of cream colour, in Black, Red, &c. and soon was fully employed.
And about this time the late Mr. John Robinson, of the Hill Top, Burslem, who understood enamelling and printing, left the service of Messrs. S. & G. and settled at Burslem, to print for Mr. Wedgwood; but he afterwards commenced business as a Printer in Black or Red, on the glaze, and also as Enameller, for any of the manufacturers; the preserved specimens of his productions, are deficient in elegance. And we may here notice, that the first successful attempt at employing Leaf Gold, by way of ornament, was by Sarah Elkin, then a servant of Mr. Wedgwood, at Etruria.
When Blue Printing was introduced, the enamellers waited upon Mr. Wedgwood to solicit his influence in preventing its establishment. We are informed that he religiously kept his promise,
Mr. Wedgwood, for many years prior to his death, in the virtuous exercise of benevolence, enjoyed the highest luxury, the most delightful pleasure, which the human mind can participate. Each Martinmas he sent to certain persons in Shelton, Cobridge, and Burslem, for a list of the names, and a full statement of the peculiar circumstances, of poor persons in each liberty, likely to require assistance during the winter; and for supplying them with comfortable Bedding, Clothing, Coals, and some Food, he always furnished adequate Funds.
His purse was ever open to the calls of charity, to the amelioration of misery, and the patronage of every philanthropic institution; and his name will go down to posterity with the highest claims on their gratitude, for being a true Friend of Mankind. He had intrisic merit on a real basis; and needs no tralatitions ascription of excellence.
He was a truly industrious potter; he followed the openings of
business suggested by the different experiments of himself and other potters; he pushed every successful trial to considerable extent; and his success in business
enabled him to employ and remunerate the best workmen, whose utmost ability was constantly excited and
directed by his enlarging knowledge. Thus he raised himself to the acme of his Art; and the public were amazed that a person with so contracted an education, and so little if any advantage over his fellows, had thus been eminently successful as the founder of his own fortune and fame,
(immortal as the Art of Pottery,) and in raising himself among the benefactors of man, and the Princes of the people.
next: Chapter 8 - Introduction of Porcelain
previous: Chapter 7 - Introduction of fluid glaze
contents: index of Shaw's book