Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, commonly known as Wedgwood, is a fine china,
porcelain, and luxury accessories company founded on 1 May 1759 by
English potter and entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood.
Wedgwood merged with
Waterford Crystal to create Waterford
Wedgwood, an Ireland-based luxury brands group. The main assets of
Waterford Wedgwood were purchased by the New York City-based private
KPS Capital Partners in 2009, and the group became known
as WWRD Holdings Limited, an acronym for "
Waterford Wedgwood Royal
Doulton". On 2 July 2015,
Fiskars Corporation acquired WWRD.
1.1 Waterford Wedgwood
1.2 WWRD Group Holdings
Wedgwood Museums and the Museum Trust
2.1 Minton Archive
4 Notes and references
5 External links
Typical wedgwood blue plate with white decor
At the outset,
Josiah Wedgwood worked with the established potter
Thomas Whieldon until 1759, when relatives leased him the Ivy House in
Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, which allowed him to start his own pottery
business. His marriage to Sarah Wedgwood, a distant cousin with a
sizable dowry, helped him launch his new venture.
Wedgwood created a new form of earthenware, which impressed
the then British Queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who
gave official permission to call it "Queen's Ware". This new form sold
extremely well across Europe. In 1766,
Wedgwood bought Etruria, a
Staffordshire estate, as both a home and factory site. Wedgwood
developed a number of further industrial innovations for his company,
notably a way of measuring kiln temperatures accurately and the new
ware types Black Basalt and Jasper Ware.
Portland Vase, about 1790
Detail of First Edition
Portland Vase by Wedgwood. Circa 1795
Wedgwood's best known product is jasperware, created to look like
ancient cameo glass. It was inspired by the Portland Vase, a Roman
vessel which is now a museum piece. The first jasperware color was
Portland Blue, an innovation that required experiments with more than
3,000 samples. In recognition of the importance of his pyrometric
Josiah Wedgwood was elected a member of the Royal
Society in 1783. The
Wedgwood Prestige collection sold replicas of the
original designs, as well as modern neo-classical style jasperware.
Wedgwood motifs in jasperware – as well as in other wares
like basaltware, queensware, caneware, etc. – were decorative
designs that were highly influenced by the ancient cultures being
studied and rediscovered at that time, especially as Great Britain was
expanding its empire. Many motifs were taken from ancient mythologies:
Roman, Greek and Egyptian. Meanwhile, archaeological fever caught the
imagination of many artists. Nothing could have been more suitable to
satisfy this huge business demand than to produce replicas of ancient
artefacts. Many representations of royalty, nobles and statesmen in
silhouette were created, as well as political symbols. These were
often set in jewellery, as well as in architectural features like
fireplace mantels, mouldings and furniture.
Wedgwood has honoured
American individuals and corporations as well, both historically and
recently. In 1774 he employed the then 19-year-old
John Flaxman as an
artist, who would work for the next 12 years mostly for Wedgwood. The
"Dancing Hours" may be his most well known design. Other artists known
to have worked for
Wedgwood include among others Lady Elizabeth
Templetown, George Stubbs,
Emma Crewe and Lady Diana Beauclerk.
Kutani Crane by Wedgwood
Wedgwood had increasing success with hard paste porcelain which
attempted to imitate the whiteness of tea-ware imported from China, an
extremely popular product amongst high society. High transport costs
and the demanding journey from the
Far East meant that the supply of
chinaware could not keep up with increasingly high demand. Towards the
end of the 18th century other
Staffordshire manufacturers introduced
bone china as an alternative to translucent and delicate Chinese
porcelain. In 1812
Wedgwood produced their own bone china which,
though not a commercial success at first eventually became an
important part of an extremely profitable business.
Wedgwood Room with porcelain panels, in the palace of Archduke Albert
Belt clasp designed by Lady Templeton and Miss Crew for Josiah
Wedgwood's factory. The Walters Art Museum.
Josiah Wedgwood was also a patriarch of the Darwin–
Many of his descendants were closely involved in the management of the
company down to the time of the merger with the Waterford Company:
John Wedgwood, eldest son of Josiah I, was a partner in the firm from
1790 to 1793 and again from 1800 to 1812.
Josiah Wedgwood II (1769–1843), second son of Josiah I, succeeded
his father as proprietor in 1795 and introduced the production by the
Wedgwood company of bone china. In 1815, during Josiah II's time as
proprietor, the great English Romantic poet William Blake
(1757–1827) spent time engraving for Wedgwood's china catalogues.
Josiah Wedgwood III (1795–1880), son of Josiah II, was a partner in
the firm from 1825 until he retired in 1842.
Francis Wedgwood, son of Josiah II, was a partner in the firm from
1827 and sole proprietor following his father's death until joined by
his own sons. Financial difficulties caused him to offer for sale soon
after taking over the firm its factory at Etruria and the family home
Etruria Hall, but in the event and fortunately for the company only
the hall was sold. He continued as senior partner until his retirement
Barlaston Hall in 1876.
Godfrey Wedgwood (1833–1905), son of Francis Wedgwood, was a partner
in the firm from 1859 to 1891. He and his brothers were responsible
for the reintroduction of bone china c.1876 and the employment of the
artists Thomas Allen and Emile Lessore.
Clement Wedgwood (1840–1889), son of Francis Wedgwood, was a
Laurence Wedgwood (1844–1913), son of Francis Wedgwood, was a
Cecil Wedgwood DSO (1863–1916), son of Godfrey Wedgwood,
partner from 1884, first Mayor of the federated County Borough of
Stoke-on-Trent (1910–1911), was chairman and managing director of
Wedgwood until his death in battle in 1916.
Laurence Wedgwood (1873–1949), son of Laurence Wedgwood, was
a partner. In 1906 he went to the United States and set up the firm's
New York office, which became
Josiah Wedgwood and Sons USA, an
incorporated subsidiary, in 1919.
Francis Hamilton Wedgwood (1867–1930), eldest son of Clement
Wedgwood, was chairman and managing director from 1916 until his
sudden death in 1930.
Josiah Wedgwood V (1899–1968), grandson of
Clement Wedgwood and son
of Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood, was managing director of the
firm from 1930 until 1968 and credited with turning the company's
fortunes around. He was responsible for the enlightened decision to
move production to a modern purpose built factory in a rural setting
at Barlaston. It was designed by Keith Murray in 1936 and built
between 1938 and 1940. He was succeeded as managing director by Arthur
Bryan (later Sir Arthur), who was the first non-member of the Wedgwood
family to run the firm.
Enoch Wedgwood (1813–1879), a distant cousin of the first Josiah,
was also a potter and founded his own firm,
Wedgwood & Co, in
1860. It was taken over by
Josiah Wedgwood & Sons in 1980.
Wedgwood purchased many English potteries including Mason's
Ironstone, Johnson Brothers, Royal Tuscan, William Adams & Sons,
J. & G. Meakin and Crown Staffordshire. In 1979, Waterford
Wedgwood purchased the
Franciscan Ceramics division of
the United States. The Los Angeles plant closed in 1984 and production
of the Franciscan brand was moved to
Johnson Brothers in Britain. In
1986, Waterford Glass Group plc purchased
Wedgwood plc forming the
company Waterford Wedgwood.
Main article: Waterford Wedgwood
In 1986, Waterford Glass Group plc purchased
Wedgwood plc for US$360
Wedgwood delivering a 38.7 million USD profit in 1998
(while Waterford itself lost $28.9 million) after which the group was
renamed Waterford Wedgwood. From early 1987 to early 1989, the CEO was
Patrick Byrne, previously of Ford, who then became CEO of the whole
group. During his time, he sold off non-core businesses, and reduced
the range of
Wedgwood patterns from over 400 to around 240. In the
late 1990s, the CEO was Brian Patterson. From 1 January 2001, the
Deputy CEO was Tony O'Reilly, Junior, who was appointed CEO in
November of the same year and resigned in September 2005. He was
succeeded by the then president of
Wedgwood USA, Moira Gavin up until
the company went into administration in 2009.
Wedgwood launched a collaboration with designer Jasper Conran
which started with a white fine bone china collection then expanded to
include seven patterns. In March 2009,
KPS Capital Partners acquired
Waterford Wedgwood group assets. Assets including Wedgwood, Waterford
Royal Doulton were placed into
WWRD Group Holdings Ltd.
WWRD Group Holdings
Main article: WWRD Group Holdings
On 5 January 2009, following years of financial problems at group
level, and after a share placement failed during the global financial
crisis of 2008,
Wedgwood was placed into administration on a "going
concern" basis, with 1,800 employees remaining. On 27 February
2009, Waterford Wedgwood's receiver
Deloitte announced that the New
York-based private equity firm
KPS Capital Partners had purchased
certain Irish and UK assets of
Waterford Wedgwood and the assets of
its Irish and UK subsidiaries. In March 2009, KPS Capital Partners
announced that it had acquired group assets in a range of countries,
including the UK, USA and Indonesia, would invest €100 million, and
move a number of jobs to Asia to cut costs and return the firm to
profitability. In a move that had begun under the previous owners,
approximately 1,500 jobs were cut in the UK, leaving 800 workers in
the UK producing only the high-end
Wedgwood products. KPS Capital
Partners has placed
Wedgwood into a group of companies known as WWRD,
an abbreviation for "
Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton."
On 11 May 2015 in a deal expected to close July 2015, the Fiskars
Corporation, a Finnish maker of home products, agreed to buy 100% of
the holdings of WWRD. On 2 July 2015 the acquisition of WWRD by
Fiskars Corporation was completed including brands Waterford,
Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Rogaška. The acquisition
was approved by the US antitrust authorities.
Wedgwood Museums and the Museum Trust
Wedgwood's founder wrote as early as 1774 that he wished he had
preserved samples of all the company's works, and began to do so. The
first formal museum was opened in May 1906, with a curator named Isaac
Cook, at the main (Etruria) works. The contents of the museum were
stored for the duration of the
Second World War
Second World War and relaunched in a
gallery at the new
Barlaston factory in 1952. A new purpose-built
visitor centre and museum was built in 1975 and remodelled in 1985
with pieces displayed near items from the old factory works in
cabinets of similar period. A video theatre was added and a new gift
shop as well as an expanded demonstration area where visitors could
watch pottery being made. A further renovation costing £4.5 million
was carried out in 2000, including access to the main factory
Adjacent to the museum and visitor centre are a restaurant and tea
room, serving on
Wedgwood ware. The museum, managed by a dedicated
trust, closed in 2000 and on 24 October 2008 reopened in a new
In June 2009, the
Wedgwood Museum won a UK Art Fund Prize for Museums
and Art Galleries for its displays of
Wedgwood pottery, skills,
designs and artefacts. In May 2011, the archive of the museum was
inscribed in UNESCO's UK Memory of the World Register.
The collection with 80,000 works of art, ceramics, manuscripts,
letters and photographs faced being sold off to help satisfy pension
debts inherited when
Waterford Wedgwood plc went into receivership in
2009. The Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, various trusts and
businesses contributed donations to purchase the collection. On
December 1 2014, the collection was purchased and donated to the
Victoria and Albert Museum. The collection will continue to be on
display at the
Wedgwood Museum on loan from the Victoria and Albert
Minton Archive comprises papers and drawings of the designs,
manufacture and production of the defunct pottery company Mintons. It
was acquired by
Waterford Wedgwood in 2005 along with other assets of
Royal Doulton group. At one time it seemed the Archive would
become part of the
Wedgwood collection. In the event, the Archive was
presented by the Art Fund to the City of Stoke-on-Trent, but it was
envisaged that some material would be displayed at
Barlaston as well
as the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
Wedgwood railway station
Wedgwood railway station was opened in 1940 to serve the Wedgwood
complex in Staffordshire, England.
Notes and references
^ "Pottery firm marks 250th birthday". BBC. 1 May 2005. Retrieved 1
^ a b Brian Dolan, Wedgwood: The First Tycoon, Viking 2004, p335
^ The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, ed. Campbell, OUP 2006,
Volume 2, p547
^ "Belt Clasp with a Female Making a Sacrifice". The Walters Art
^ Michael Davis, William Blake: A New Kind of Man, University of
California Press, 1977, pages 140–141
Wedgwood goes into administration". BBC. 5 January 2009.
Waterford Wedgwood bought by US equity firm KPS Capital". The Irish
Times. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
^ Arnold, Martin (26 March 2009). "New
Wedgwood owner to invest
€100m". Financial Times. London. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
Waterford Wedgwood shifts to Asia to save company The Jakarta
Post". thejakartapost.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 8
December 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
^ Bray, Chad. "
Fiskars Agrees to Buy Owner of Waterford and Wedgwood".
New York Times. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
Fiskars Corporation has completed the acquisition of WWRD and
extended its portfolio with iconic luxury home and lifestyle brands".
NASDQ Global News Wire. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
Wedgwood wins £100,000 art prize". BBC. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 5
^ "2011 UK Memory of the World Register", United Kingdom National
Commission for UNESCO, 2011. Accessed 4 June 2011.
Wedgwood Museum archive recognised by UNESCO,"
Accessed 4 June 2011.
^ "Unesco recognises
Wedgwood Museum archive collection", BBC, 24 May
2011. Accessed 4 June 2011.
Wedgwood collection 'saved for nation'". BBC. Retrieved 10 March
^ "Loan of
Wedgwood Collection to
Barlaston finalised". Save the
Wedgwood Collection. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
^ "Art Fund helps save the
Minton Archive for the nation" (PDF). Art
Fund. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
Minton Archive saved for the nation" (Press release).
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