Wedgewood Pottery began in 1759 when Josiah Wedgewood started a humble pottery business. His talent and amazing style set trends and attracted the interest of notable patrons who propelled the popularity of Wedgwood. For more than 250 years, Wedgwood has set the standard for fine pottery. There are some easy clues that may help you identify and date early pieces. There are three critical steps that will help you date your Wedgwood pottery: feel, observe, and consult.
Feel the surface of your pottery. Old pottery feels old. The glaze will likely show some cracking. Study the colours, the brand marks, and the pattern of the piece. You will need to know these details to do further research and learn about your piece.
Observe the brand stamp on your pottery. Joshia Wedgwood was one of the first potters to mark his pottery, beginning as early as 1759. The earliest Wedgwood pottery bore the Wedgwood name in stylised, hand stamped letters. Because each of the letters in the Wedgwood name were individually stamped, the first clue to identifying the earliest pieces is these uneven letters. Use your jeweller's loop or magnifying glass to look carefully at your Wedgwood piece. Find the brand stamp on your piece.
For the earliest Wedgwood pieces, you will notice the letters are not perfectly aligned, that the depth of the impression is varied, and that the size of the impressions are inconsistent. Pieces stamped in this manner were likely made between 1759 and 1769.
From 1769-1780, the brand became known as Wedgwood Bentley after a merger with Thomas Bentley. While the name Wedgwood was still used alone until 1780, this combined names in a circular stamp were more prominent. The word "Etruria" also appeared on some pieces during this period.
In 1891, the country of origin, England, was imprinted on all pieces to conform to the McKinley Tariff Act. Later, the stamp became "Made in England."
Later, the Wedgwood Company began using a three-letter code to code the year and month of production. These codes are often hard to read due to the placement and wear of glazes on the pieces. However, if you can identify the marks they will provide quick insight into the dates. Your area collector society will be able to share a chart to help you decipher this.
Be prepared to do some additional research. Learning more about the specific line of pottery, pattern and the production of that product line will provide additional clues about the date of manufacture. Specific colours and pattern were produced on select pieces and during specific periods. The more you learn, the more accurate your estimated date will be. For example, solid black jasper was only made from 1776 to 1826. Bone China was made between 1812 and 1830.
The Wedgwood Collection has been produced for 250 years and is a huge product group. Additional resources on the Internet, collector societies, and antique specialists will be a great resource for dating and valuation.
The Wedgwood Collection is huge. It is impossible for one person to be an expert on all of the marks, dates and nuances. Your research and observation will give you approximate dates that will help you understand and date your piece. For conclusive dating and valuation it is best to consult a Wedgewood specialist. Find one through an area Wedgewood collectors society or antique dealer.
If you are trying to date your Wedgwood for a potential sale, take the time to do further research or to find an expert for a certified appraisal. This will assure you are paid a fair price for your treasured piece.