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Vase & Pedestal in engine turned ceamware - 1760

Engine turned cream ware vase and pedestal, © Wedgwood Museum
    Engine turned cream ware vase and pedestal
    © Wedgwood Museum

Engine Turned Vase and Pedestal; engine turned and applied feather ornament at top of canopy 1765-68.

Wedgwood’s improved and superior cream-coloured earthenware was quickly used to manufacture a range of ornamental wares, especially vases, to adorn the homes of the fashionable and wealthy. Josiah’s ceramics became an integral part of the interior décor of every English house, with vases becoming popular as containers for the all-abiding passion for flowers as well as purely decorative objects.Josiah considered the production of vases were, ‘an inexhaustible field’. The shapes of his vases were seldom original, frequently having been adapted from published engravings. The manuscript record of vase designs, known as the ‘Shape Number 1 Book’, provided a detailed record of all the forms produced.Josiah wrote to Thomas Bentley, his friend and later partner, in November 1766 concerning this unusual form of lid, ‘Vases with high-crowned hats’. The form was in fact impractical and difficult to pick up, possibly accounting for the relative scarcity of the lids today.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/vase
  • Mark: unmarked
  • Year produced: 1760
  • Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Glaze: cream
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: engine-turned, rouletted
  • Accession number: 5384 (vase), 66 (pedestal)
  • Dimensions: 200 mm (height vase), 135 mm (diameter vase), 155 mm (height pedestal), 155 mm (diameter pedestal), 355 mm (overall height)

Related people

  • Josiah Wedgwood I

    Josiah Wedgwood I (1730 - 1795)

    Josiah was born in 1730, the youngest of twelve children born to Mary Wedgwood and her husband, Thomas. His father was a potter who lived and worked at the Churchyard Works, Burslem. This town was still connected by rough roads to the other five towns which made up the area of North Staffordshire known as the Potteries. By the time of his death, Josiah Wedgwood I not only improved the variety and quality of pottery produced, but he also opened up the area as an important centre of commerce with the rest of the world through his involvement in the development of canal and road networks. He went on to become one of the most influential ceramic manufacturers in the world, and earned the title 'The Father of English Potters'. His direct descendants are still involved in the factory which bears his name today.Much of Josiah's development as a successful businessman, philanthropist and potter can be accounted for by the ill fortunes he suffered. At the age of 9 when his father died and he had to abandon his formal school education in order to work in the family business. Then at around eleven years old he contracted smallpox and was left with a knee-infection which constricted his use of the kick-wheel on which the pottery shapes were formed. From that time onwards he focused on affecting the perfection and marketing of Burslem's main product.Another spur to Wedgwood’s success was his growing affection for his distant cousin, Sarah whom he had met at the home of his wealthy uncles, John and Thomas. Whereas Josiah came from a poor background, Richard, his future father-in-law, was a prosperous cheese-merchant from Cheshire who apparently insisted that the young potter achieved a certain level of wealth before he could marry his daughter. Wedgwood entered partnerships with other potters, most notably Thomas Whieldon, and established himself as an independent potter in 1759. He moved to superior premises at the Ivy House Works where he perfected his Queen’s ware body and then to the Brick House Works. His reputation was rapidly spreading farther afield and finally, Richard was convinced of his suitability as a husband for his daughter, Sarah.There is no doubt as to Josiah’s love for Sarah when, on the eve of their wedding in 1764 he wrote to his partner, Thomas Bentley: 'I yesterday prevailed upon my dear Girl to name the day, the blissful day! When she will reward all my faithfull services and take me to her Arms!'.

  • Thomas Bentley

    Thomas Bentley (1731 - 1780)

    Thomas Bentley was born in Scropton in Derbyshire, and was the son of a well-to-do country gentleman. He was educated at the Presbyterian Academy at Findern, and then indentured to a wholesale merchant in Manchester. He moved to Liverpool, and was introduced to Josiah I by Wedgwood’s surgeon, Matthew Turner. From this chance meeting grew a lifelong correspondence, friendship, and later business partnership. From August 1769 to Bentley’s death in 1780 the ornamental ware partnership with Josiah grew to huge proportions and was highly successful. After Bentley died, having lost his greatest friend and confidante, Wedgwood was inconsolable.

Glossary

  • Queen’s ware

    Queen’s ware

    In 1765 Wedgwood provided a tea and coffee service to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) in the new earthenware body he had recently perfected. She was so pleased with the set that she not only allowed Josiah to style himself ‘Potter to Her Majesty’, she also allowed him to call his new earthenware ‘Queen’s ware’ - a name by which Wedgwood’s cream coloured earthenware is still known today.

  • Engine-turning lathe

    Engine-turning lathe

    This specialist piece of equipment has an eccentric motion that enables a range of decorative, repetitive patterns to be cut into ornamental wares before firing, using a special cutting tool. Wedgwood is credited with the introduction of this piece of equipment in the ceramic industry in 1763. The technique of engine turning is a highly-skilled operation for both the turner and his assistant. Decorative patterns that can be achieved on the engine-turning lathe include fluting and dicing.

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