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Unloved Antiques: 20th-Century Wedgwood Jasperware

by Mike Wilcox (02/22/12).

This Wedgwood Jasperware lilac-colored kidney-shaped trinket or pill box, decorated with white applied classical medallions between foliate frames and roses border 2 inches high and 3 inches across. It is marked “Wedgwood” and “Made in England” with an “F.” It sold for $26.52 on eBay.

The next item in this series of Unloved Antiques is something that can be quite valuable if it’s of the right vintage, but very little if it isn’t—Wedgwood “Jasperware.”

Jasperware is a very distinctive type of stoneware with ivory/marble looking appliqués of Greek and Roman classical design on a blue, black, pink, brown, red or green background. It was originally developed by Josiah Wedgwood during the mid 1700s. The Wedgwood company was one of the most far-thinking companies of its time, quick to take advantage of new decorating trends, notably in this case making pieces similar to the ones found by early archeologists digging Greek and Roman ruins. Like any popular maker, its products were quickly copied by other makers in both Europe and England.

While the 18th- and 19th-century examples by Wedgwood are much sought after, with rare exceptions, the 20th-century examples are not. One could have a china cabinet full of mid 20th-century Jasperware that, if sold, would not buy a weekend holiday. Fortunately, Wedgwood has made it quite easy to determine a piece of modern jasperware from the pricey 18th- and early 19th-century originals, by the use of a variety of company markings and date codes. One can become an instant expert at dating Wedgwood by simply flipping it over and looking for the marking. A mark such as “England” on Jasperware immediately tells you the piece being examined post dates 1891. A “Made in England” mark bumps the date up to circa 1908 or later.

The date code system is where it really gets interesting with Wedgwood, as the company was the first to use a three-letter date code, beginning in 1860. In the first Wedgwood date coding system, the first letter represents the month of manufacture, the second letter identified the potter who threw the shape and, most importantly, the last letter indicating the year the piece was made (beginning with 0 for 1860 to N for 1885). This system was repeated four times. In the third series, beginning in 1907, the first letter for the month is replaced by a 3, and in the fourth series, commencing with A in 1924 with the figure 4. The biggest change—and the easiest to date—took place circa 1929/30, when the year letter mark is replaced with the last two digits of the year. If the piece was made in 1932, for example, the marking would show a “32.”

The set of four Wedgwood Jasperware pieces—a clover-shaped covered box, a bell, a small tray and a votive candle holder—all have the “Wedgwood” and “Made in England” marks. The lot brought $26 at auction.

A classic Wedgwood Jasperware cobalt-dipped-on-white milk pitcher, dated from the last part of the 19th century through the first part of the 20th century, is marked “Wedgwood,” “England” and “M, 2, 48.” Standing 3 ½-inches high, it sold for $39 at auction.

The piece above is a 1950s vintage Wedgwood Jasperware trinket box in green and white. Mid 20th-century pieces like these trinket boxes routinely sell at auction these days for less than $25.

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Previous “Unloved Antiques” articles:

Unloved Antiques: ‘Limited Edition’ Collectors Plates
Unloved Antiques: Singer Sewing Machines
Unloved Antiques: Decorator Prints
Unloved Antiques: Commemorative Whiskey Decanters
Unloved Antiques: ‘Bronze’ Flatware
Unloved Antiques: 1847 Rogers Brothers Flatware
Unloved Antiques: Hummel Knockoffs
Unloved Antiques: National Geographic Magazines
Unloved Antiques: Dragonware
Unloved Antiques: 19th Century Religious Prints
Unloved Antiques: Depression Glass
Unloved Antiques: Stradivarius-Style Violins
Unloved Antiques: 19th-Century Pump Organs
Unloved Antiques: ‘Starving Artist’ Painting
Unloved Antiques: The American Old Family Bible
Unloved Antiques: That Stack of Old Books

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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12 Responses to “Unloved Antiques: 20th-Century Wedgwood Jasperware”

  1. Sue Crase says:

    Talking about Japanese art, my father a Korean War Veteran, brought home 2 paintings on silk, framed in bamboo. Different but the same – mountain in the background, pagoda peering out from the trees, a bridge and each have different sets of buildings. They are signed, but I can’t read it. I also have his pool cue/cane. Ivory ball handle, enamel finish with the islands of Japan engraved in color. Brass tip. What might they be worth?

  2. Cecelia Teague says:

    I have what I think is called a biscuit jar, in green. It has c wedgewood and England stamped on the bottom with just an X. What does the X mean?

    • Hi, Your X almost certainly is the mark of the person who adhered the cameos to the basic biscuit jar. Many of the ladies doing this job around the turn of the 19th century were illiterate and therefore they each had their own mark. The article relating to modern Wedgwood jasper is very misleading as it quotes date marks, which were almost never found on jasper, only on earthenware. I have dealt in Wedgwood for over 40 years and have only found a couple of items dated in the manner described. Wedgwood started marking jasper with a year in the 1950′s, and continue to this day, so 75 means 1975, etc.If you find an early piece with a number like 30 or 45, these relate to the number of similar items Wedgwood could fit on one tray in the kiln for firing. I hope these comments are useful.

      • Mike Wilcox says:

        The focus of the article is Mid 20th century and later Jasperware, on which the later date codes were most certainly used. The article also mentions the fact that one should look for the variety of Wedgwood company markings, as well as country of origin markings to help determine a date for earlier Wedgwood Jasperware. The general overview of earlier date codes for earthenware is mentioned for general reference purposes, but I agree that could have been made clearer in the article.

  3. Jean Sirchia says:

    I have a green Wedgewood 4″ vase with harpist and boy holding music. Also has 2 rams heads. The imprint is the Wedgewood mark……crown with star like mark under it. Also has S211 or maybe 8211 or 3211. Cannot make out the 1st letter or number very well. Also has handwritten 40 corresponding to what Arthur Puffett said about the amount on the tray. Any info will be appreciated. Thank you

  4. stephanie coffin says:

    I have a Wedgwood cake stand in pale green mint in excellent condition with the number 5 and something that looks like a C on the bottom. Any idea what that means?

  5. Gary Nichols says:

    I just came across some wedgwood and from some quick reserch it looks like they are before 1860 – I have no idea what the other mark is though it looks like a li. Anyone know how I can find out more?

    • Mike Wilcox says:

      I’d suggest using the Worthologist valuation service offered in the links above under the “Research your items” link.

  6. silk trees says:

    The cobalt-dipped-on-white milk pitcher looks great, I like this style

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