Wedgwood: ten things you didn’t know about this very British brand

September 25, 2015 / OLD news posts

1. Josiah Wedgwood contributed £1,000 to the cost of James Brindley’s Trent and Mersey Canal, which made transporting pottery – previously carried over rough mule tracks – much easier and cheaper. In 1766, Josiah cut the first sod of earth to inaugurate its construction.

2. Exporter extraordinaire Josiah sold his goods to Europe, the US, Africa, South America and China, among other places, making his company one of the earliest global luxury brands.

3. Artist George Stubbs – famed for his equestrian paintings – sometimes painted on ceramic plaques supplied by Wedgwood – and, in 1780, did a portrait of Josiah and his family in the grounds of their home, Etruria Hall.

4. In 1782, Josiah was elected a fellow of the Royal Society for inventing the pyrometer, which measured extremely high temperatures. It was used to gauge oven heat when firing pots.

5. Josiah was an exacting perfectionist: he smashed any pot that didn’t meet his standards, exclaiming, ‘This will not do for Josiah Wedgwood!’

6. Josiah’s eldest daughter Susannah was the mother of naturalist Charles Darwin.

7. In 1815, artist and poet William Blake engraved images for Wedgwood’s china catalogues.

8. When inviting guests to its spring/summer 2014 catwalk show, Mulberry sent them dolls’ house-sized Wedgwood teacups and saucers in one of five colourways. Each took many hours to make.

9. Today, Wedgwood also produces over 50 own-brand tea blends, available from its Tea Emporium at World of Wedgwood or from its website.

10. Wedgwood’s bestselling range is ‘Wild Strawberry’, first introduced in 1770. It has been modified several times since then, and the current version, created in 1965, is still extremely popular, especially in Japan: four million pieces, with their hand-finished, 22 gold-carat rims, have sold in the past five years alone.

Find out more about the history (and the future) of this most British of brands in the latest issue of ELLE Decoration