Friday, 30 January 2009

Dark Times for Waterford Wedgwood

Waterford Wedgwood has been forced to call in the administrators after 250 years in business. This international symbol of quality British craftsmanship and design will be sorely missed by the collectors of Wedgwood and also by the many hundreds of workers and families whose skills, passed down through generations are forced to shut up shop. There is still some hope for this renouned business as buyers may step in to purchase parts of the company and keep production going, but like the rest of the economy at the moment nothing is certain.

Wedgewood was started by Josiah Wedgwood in England in 1759. Waterford was started in Ireland in 1783. The two merged in 1986 bringing together two of the most recognised brands in fine crystal and china. Their famous brands include Waterford Crys
tal, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton fine bone china and Rosenthal porcelain.

Image source: The Guardian.
To view more photos of Waterford Wedgwood click here for The Guardian online.

When Josiah Wedgwood started as an apprentice in his brothers workshop he must have had little idea how successful his future business was to become. Now remembered as the 'Father of the English Potters' Wedgwood earnt this title through his innovative approach to ceramics and the advancement he brought to his company.

In 1762 Wedgwood created a cream-coloured tea and coffee set for
Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. She was so pleased with the set she allowed him to use the name 'Potter to Her Majesty' and use the name Queens Ware. This was the start of Wedgwood's illustrious career. His three most famous contributions to the ceramics industry include Queens Ware, Black Basalt a fine black porcelain, and a new type of stoneware Jasper. Later in his career Wedgwood also invented the pyrometer. This instrument allowed for higher kiln temperatures to be measured and is considered by some the most important development in ceramic history since the Chinese invented procelain over 1000 years before.

I've been having a look around Alfies searching for some Waterford Wedgwood pieces to remind myself of the range of items the company produced. Wesley Payne showed me a couple of items
he has at the moment including this beautiful Royal Doulton floral tea set from 1933:

He also has a much older piece from 1880 reminding me just how long Wedgwood has been going:

Just across the corridor Janes Antiques were also hiding a few Wedgwood treasures such as this large soup terrine:

The figurines below are Royal Doulton and are called the Four Seasons as each figurine represents a season of the year:

I am guessing now that the company has called in administrators, Waterford Wedgwood crystal and fine china will, if it is at all possible, become even more collectable. Something that will mean the Waterford Wedgwood name will continue to live and be remembered on for many more years to come.

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