Not surprisingly, references to Hackwood in the early years of his employment are scarce. It is possible that an oblique reference to Hackwood appears in a letter dated January 10, 1770. At this time factory work was split between two sites, the newly opened Etruria factory and the older rented location of the Brick House in Burslem, also known as the Bell works. In the letter, Wedgwood observes,
“I hope we shall fire Bisket again in three weeks or a month when Mr Du Burk may depend on havg. some Lyons, & other Animals, & some Trytons too I hope, but they are very tedious making. We have got half a dozn. of the Burslem hands assisting us in these figures, & three Modelers repairing the models, & touching up the figures for sale – Ten, or a dozn. Hands employ’d in figures making no great shew with their work at the weeks end.”
Further detail concerning the number of “modelling hands” is found in a letter of February 1770 in which Wedgwood tells Bentley, “We employ 5 Modelers at Etruria & 2 at Burslem of wch. you may give a proper hint now & then to yr. good Customers.” One of the modellers referred to may have been Hackwood but at this stage, his career with Wedgwood was very much in its infancy and he was probably still learning the skills of “touching up,” if he was allowed near any work of note at all.
One of the earliest references to the artist by name appears in a letter dated August 20, 1770: “We shall make some flowerpots upon the Idea you give me in this letter when we can model them but Hackwood has been near 3 weeks upon one of the flower baskets & is now ingaged in finishing bassreliefs.”