It’s All in the Marks: Dating a Wedgwood Jasperware Urn
Jasperware was originally developed by Josiah Wedgwood during the mid-1700s and took advantage of new decorating trends, notably, in this case, copies of pieces found by early archeologists digging Greek and Roman ruins. Is this piece an antique of 18th- or 19th-century vintage or a 20th-century production? Know which helps define the value.
This covered urn is an example of Wedgwood “Jasperware.” According to its owner, this one was purchased in 1980 at auction; its vintage was not listed in the auction catalog. Jasperware is a very distinctive type of stoneware with ivory/marble-looking appliques of Greek and Roman classical design on a blue, black, pink, brown red or green background.
Jasperware was originally developed by Josiah Wedgwood during the mid-1700s. The Wedgwood pottery was one of the most far-thinking companies of its time, quick to take advantage of new decorating trends, notably, in this case, copies of pieces found by early archeologists digging Greek and Roman ruins. Like any popular maker, its products were quickly copied by other makers in both England and across the Channel in Europe. Jasperware’s popularity has had its ups and downs, but has never really been out of production since its invention.
While the 18th- and 19th-century examples of Wedgwood Jasperware are sought after, with rare exceptions, the 20th-century examples are not, which makes identifying when a piece was made of utmost importance. The more modern versions can be quickly identified if you know what to look for.
This example has a few clues to its vintage: first, it’s stamped “Made In England,” “Wedgwood” and “57.”
The marking “Made In England” automatically labels this as most likely a 20th-century example. We know this because Wedgwood began using the full country of origin “Made In England” marking in 1898, but was not in regular use until 1908.
The clues to this piece’s vintage: it’s stamped “Made In England” at the top, “Wedgwood” on the bottom and “57” on the left.
The marking that really tells the tale though is the “57.” Like many potteries, Wedgwood used a date code system on its pieces, the one used on urn this was introduced circa 1929-30, using the last two digits of the year the piece was made. For example, a “32” would stand for 1932. The date code on this one—“57” —indicates this urn is certainly not an antique, as its date of production being 1957.
In the current market, the values for most modern Jasperware—particularly the smaller pieces—are very modest. But the larger pieces, like these urns, still bring good prices at auction. In the current market one like this example routinely go at auction in the $350- to 450-range.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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