The History of Wedgwood

Posted by Mike Eley on

The History of Wedgwood

Wedgwood is one of the most popular manufacturers of fine china, tableware, porcelain and numerous luxury accessories. The company has been around since 1759, making it one of the oldest china and tableware companies in the country. It was created by Josiah Wedgwood. Just 6 years later, Wedgwood created a new type of creamware and that impressed even the British Queen consort who gave permission to have it called the Queen’s Ware. This product in particular sold very well all over Europe.

Wedgwood JasperwareIn 1765 Wedgwood acquired Etruria, which was a large estate with a factory. They started to add numerous industrial innovations to their factory, such as a new way to measure the kiln temperatures. One of the most popular Wedgwood products is Jasperware, which was created to look very similar to cameo glass from ancient times. This was a product inspired by the Portland vase, one of the most impressive Roman vases that can be found in a museum at this time.

The company was very successful with many of its products, specifically with hard paste porcelain, which attempted to imitate the tea ware whiteness from China. High import costs made the Chinese original very hard to come by, so Wedgwood became a very important company as they started producing their own bone china. Granted, this product was not super successful at first, but it did end up turning a profit as time went by, eventually becoming a core product for many British potteries.

Decade after decade, Wedgwood started to grow, and purchasing numerous English potteries as they did. These included Johnson Brothers, Royal Tuscan, Crown Staffordshire, William Addams, and Son as well as many others. Most of the Wedgwood descendants were involved with managing and even running the company, up until 1986. At that time Waterford Glass Group PLC purchased Wedgwood for $360 million. Between 1987 and 1989, Patrick Byrne was the CEO, and he sold most of the non-core business, also reducing Wedgwood’s patterns from 400 to around 240.

Wedgwood Hathaway Rose  Wedgwood Blue Pacific  Wedgwood Old Columbia

Later, in 2001, the company started to collaborate with Jasper Conran. He started a white fine bone china collection, and that was expanded to numerous patterns. Later during the same decade, in 2009, KSP Capital Partners purchased the Waterford Wedgwood assets. They placed Wedgwood in a group of companies known as WWRD, and Fiskars Corporation purchased 100% of the WWRD holdings. That’s where most of the Wedgwood assets and patents can be found at this time.

Despite Wedgwood no longer being British owned, it is still an interesting, creative company with a rich pottery history which was hugely influential within British pottery. Their work is one of the most iconic in the industry, standing the test of time when it comes to value and quality. This goes to show the craftsmanship and tremendous value that the company brought to the table for so many years. Yes, the business did change hands many times, but they never lost the amazing quality and great craftsmanship they are known for!

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →