Skills and their Value

Although Josiah greatly appreciated Hackwood as a worker, it was only natural that he should find fault with the charges for modelling demanded by his now invaluable employee. On March 10, 1777, Wedgwood groused to Bentley that “. . . Mr Hackwood . . . is growing very extravagant in his prices & I do not find it possible to keep him reasonable upon that subject.” Nevertheless, Josiah kept Hackwood hard at work, possibly in retribution for the growing extravagance of his prices. A surviving formal contract made between Josiah Wedgwood and William Hackwood dated November 1777 specifies that Hackwood’s basic wage was to be £1 11s 6d. per week and that the house he lived in at the time was to be rent-free. Additional payments were to be made for the modeling of individual works.

As an employee Hackwood undertook to produce to the best of his capabilities whatever work was required by Wedgwood, the factory, and their customers, whether it was in “repairing Gems” or in modelling and repairing busts and figures.

An interesting letter dated March 2, 1774, mentions Hackwood and other “unsung” heroes by name and gives valuable information as to their individual skills: “. . . James Bourn is employd for me in turning patterns . . . Hackwood is employ’d constantly in repairing Gems, Massey in making Seals, Bedson in Gems & Bass-reliefs, & Barnet at Vases, Flowerpots, Lamps & Handling, & these are all the Hands we have besides Robt., the Turners, & Odd Men.”