The Collector’s Minute: Wedgwood Black Basalt
A pair of 19th-century Wedgwood wine & water ewers pieces in black basalt. Today, they are most likely found at auction and sell in the $5,000-$6.500 range.
These wine & water ewers are 19th-century Wedgwood pieces in what’s referred to as “black basalt,” a hard, black vitreous stoneware named after the volcanic rock basalt and manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood from about 1768. Wedgwood’s black basalt ware was an improvement on the stained earthenware known as “Egyptian black,” which was made by other Staffordshire potters. The wine ewer, “Sacred to Bacchus,” is modeled with a satyr seated on the shoulder of the shield-shaped body clasping the horns of a ram suspending swags of grapevines. The ewer, “Sacred to Neptune,” with a triton seated and clasping the fins of a dolphin draped with swags of water weed.
This pair was designed by John Flaxman Senior (1726-95), who provided the original plaster models for the ewers and invoiced Josiah Wedgwood “£3.3s” in 1775 for “A pair of Vases, one with a satyr & the other with a Triton Handle.” The original plasters are in still in the Wedgwood archives, and Wedgwood produced them in both white and black for a great number of years, beginning about 1794. They were still in production in 1878.
Today the majority of these Basalt ewers trade hands at auction. In the last two years, we have seen a number of the Basalt ewers sell in the $5,000-$6,500 range at auction. Pairs with some damage or restoration sell for less than $3,500.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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