Wedgwood china dishes and ceramics are among the most famous and valuable ceramics in the world. They are highly valued by collectors, which unfortunately makes forgeries and attempts to pass off old dishes as Wedgwood extremely common. However, there are several identifying marks and techniques that make it simple to determine legitimate antiques from frauds.
Types of Wedgwood
Wedgwood only makes three specific types of china: Jasperware, Queen's Ware and standard tableware. Jasperware are decorative blue plates, with scenes on them in white. These scenes are usually from mythology. Queen's Ware, a pattern designed specifically for Queen Charlotte in 1765, has remained unchanged since. Lastly, there is the standard tableware and miscellaneous collectibles made by the company. All, however, will have certain distinctive marks that can be used to verify its legitimacy.
There are several different versions of the Wedgwood mark, which can be found on the back of the item. Often, if an item is pictured, it will be an urn. It will also say "Made In England" and have the pattern on the back, if applicable. Be careful not to confuse Wedgwood with Wedgewood & Co., a ceramics company that uses a unicorn as its symbol. The extra "e" can throw off the inexperienced seller. Ninety per cent of Wedgwood products are clearly marked and this should be the first thing you check.
Wedgwood has only used a specific number of patterns in its 250-year history. These patterns are widely known and information about them is available in antiquing books and other materials. Carefully compare the patterns of your desired item to the patterns in your research materials, as some knock-offs may closely resemble Wedgwood patterns. If the item is being sold online, request high resolution photos of the china that you will be able to look at in detail to compare patterns.
Identifying the age of china is usually done by checking the date impressed into the plate, and comparing the style of the mark against what was popular at the time. The same is true of Wedgwood. A mark of age will usually be imprinted into the plate, and the mark will have certain stylistic elements, such as scrollwork on the letters. If the mark is inconsistent with the age on the plate, it is likely a forgery.
Even if a Wedgwood plate is the legitimate article, it can still be rendered worthless by damage. Check the plate closely for cracks or chips. Look carefully for any signs that the plate has been broken and repaired, such as hairline cracks in the plate or unusual breaks in the pattern along the edge. Finally, look for "crazing," spidery lines visible on the surface of the porcelain. All of these can render even a Wedgwood worthless.