In 1759 Josiah Wedgwood established a pottery near Stoke-on-Trent at the former Ivy House works in Burslem, England. By 1761, Wedgwood had perfected a superior quality inexpensive clear- glazed creamware which proved to be very successful.
Wedgwood moved his pottery from the Ivy House to the larger Brick House works in Burslem in 1764. In 1766, upon being appointed “Potter to Her Majesty” by Queen Charlotte, Wedgwood named his creamware “Queen’s ware.” The Brick House works remained in production until 1772.
Wedgwood built a new factory in Etruria in 1769, the same year he formed a partnership with Thomas Bentley. Wedgwood’s most famous set of Queen’s ware, the 1,000-piece “Frog” Service created for Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was produced at the Etruria factory in 1774.
By the late 1700s, the Wedgwood product line included black basalt, creamware, jasper, pearlware, and redware. Moonlight luster was made from 1805 to 1815. Bone China was produced from 1812 to 1822, and revived in 1878. Fairyland luster was introduced in 1915. The last luster pieces were made in 1932.
In 1906 Wedgwood established a museum at its Etruria pottery. A new factory was built at nearby Barlaston in 1940. The museum was moved to Barlaston and expanded. The Etruria works was closed in 1950.
During the 1960s and 1970s Wedgwood acquired many English potteries, including William Adams & Sons, Coalport, Susie Cooper, Crown Staffordshire, Johnson Brothers, Mason’s Ironstone, J. & G. Meakin, Midwinter Companies, Precision Studios and Royal Tuscan. In 1969 Wedgwood acquired King’s Lynn Glass, renaming it King’s Lynn Glass. The acquisition of Galway Crystal Company of Galway, Erie, followed in 1974.
In 1986 Waterford and Wedgwood merged. The Wedgwood Group, now a division of Waterford Wedgwood, consists of six major divisions: Wedgwood, Coalport, Johnson Brothers, Mason’s Ironstone, Wedgwood Hotelware, and Wedgwood Jewellery. The Wedgwood Group is one of the largest tabletop manufacturers in the world. It is a public company comprising eight factories and employing 5,500 people in the United Kingdom and overseas.
References: Susan and Al Bagdade, “Warman’s English & Continental Pottery & Porcelain,” 3rd Edition, Krause Publications, 1998; Robin Reilly, “Wedgwood: The New Illustrated Dictionary, Revised, Antique Collectors’ Club,” 1995; Harry L. Rinker, “Dinnerware of the 20th Century: The Top 500 Patterns, House of Collectibles,” 1997; Harry L. Rinker, “Stemware of the 20th Century: The Top 200 Patterns,” House of Collectibles, 1997.
— by Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”