Collecting with Jeff
Anyone looking for quality pottery will no doubt come across the likes of Wedgwood pottery. Its high quality makes it a much desired household décor, and very appropriate wedding and special events gift; however, it is interesting how Josiah Wedgwood, a Brit, developed the pottery that is known around the world. First, it always helps when you are born into a family that are potters, which is what happened with Josiah. He was a sickly child, which actually provided him additional time to learn the craft.
After entering into a partnership with the prominent English potter at the time, Thomas Whieldon, he married a distant cousin, another Wedgwood.
Wedgwood’s first development in the pottery field was that of Queen’s Ware, which was a cream-colored, lead-glazed earthenware. This was very durable and mixed flint and white clay. It got its name after Wedgwood had provided a tea service in the material for the wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte. She was so pleased with the tea service that she allowed him to call it Queen’s Ware, and to call himself the “Potter to Her Majesty.” That turned out to be Wedgwood’s big break, and soon his name was spread all across Europe.
It was another development, that of Jasperware, for which Wedgwood may be most remembered. Jasperware has been called the most important invention in the history of ceramics since porcelain was first discovered. Even though Jasper can be almost any color, the most popular ones are pale or dark blue, or white.
The new material that was developed by Wedgwood can be used in a great many objects, and often in imitation of the classical Greek styles. Jasperware is still very popular today, two hundred years after it was first introduced.
After all these years, Josiah Wedgwood’s greatest contribution to European ceramics is pearlware, which is an extremely pale creamware with a bluish tint to its glaze.
As collectors know, a Wedgwood piece is highly coveted, and is widely regarded as a real treasure. Of course, some pieces are actually used by collectors, while others are merely displayed. Suffice it to say that a Wedgwood piece is a high quality item, and being so, it is quite costly. Any Wedgwood piece that is auctioned usually results in a competitive bidding war much to the delight of auction houses.
Here are a few auction sales of Wedgwood items: A Wedgwood Rosso Antico Sphinx was auctioned for $3,107 in a Heritage auction in 2011. In the same auction, two Wedgwood porcelain bowls sold for $3,000 each, and a bust of Leonardo da Vinci went for $2,250.
A pair of very rare porcelain medallions of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin sold for over $3,200, while an English art pottery bowl went for nearly $4,200. Likewise, a pair or covered English figured earthenware vases fetched over $6,500. The pair had Sphinx head covers as well as a band depicting the signs of the Zodiac.
Of course, not every Wedgwood piece costs thousands of dollars. Take, for example, a Wedgwood English fairyland lustre porcelain bowl. In a 2014 Heritage auction it went for a little over $800.
Congratulations to columnist and sports specialist Jeff Figler for his role in the appraising of many sports items in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture opening on September 24 in Washington, D.C. Among the items appraised by Jeff working with his assistant Becky Johnson were the sports items of Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Bill Russell, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Serena Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tiger Woods, Ernie Banks, Walter Payton and Don Newcombe.
Jeff Figler has authored more than 600 published articles about collecting. He is one of the world’s leading experts on collectibles and is a former sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/STL Today, and San Diego Union Tribune. Jeff’s most recent book is Picker’s Pocket Guide to Baseball Memorabilia published by Krause Publications. You can learn more about Jeff by visiting his website collectingwithjeff.com. He can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.