You might think you know all that there is to know about Wedgwood, but with over 260 years of history, there’s far more to us than meets the eye. Beyond the signature Wedgwood blue Jasperware, here are five intriguing facts about a quintessentially British brand to tickle your trivia buds.
1. The most famous potter in history couldn't use a potter's wheel
But that did not prevent him from building a ceramics empire. Josiah Wedgwood was a man who triumphed against all odds. After overcoming smallpox in his youth, he later chose to have his right leg amputated to relieve his pain. Although he was left unable to use his beloved potter’s wheel, he remained unstoppable in his business conviction. Josiah was a survivor, and his reduced mobility only inspired him to evolve new ways to pursue his objectives and certainly never dimmed his pioneering brilliance.
2. Wedgwood sought perfection
Thorough, dedicated and determined, Josiah Wedgwood took a very scientific approach to the art of ceramics manufacture. He set himself the ambition of reliably producing a perfect glazed white body, and applied himself tirelessly to achieving it. He succeeded in 1761, after 411 experiments. This conviction and professional dedication to manufacturing technique led to changes in production methods which both influenced and helped to shape the Industrial Revolution.
3. Wedgwood is the first lady's choice
For over two hundred years Wedgwood has been present in the world's most elegant homes. Over the centuries, numerous stately households have had an affinity with Wedgwood. From the holiday palace of Empress Catherine The Great, to the banqueting tables at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, via a 1,282 piece dinner service at The White House during President Roosevelt’s time in office. Knowing that our tableware continues to be sought-after amongst today’s most influential tastemakers is something that brings us inspiration every day.
4. The Wedgwood dynasty influenced the way we see the world
A born influencer, Josiah was drawn to other innovators and thinkers. Those closest to him represented some of the finest minds of his generation. Whilst he socialised with royalty and artists, his most historically-significant association was with Erasmus Darwin, his family doctor and dear friend. Josiah Wedgwood was grandfather to the naturalist and evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin. This incredible legacy altered the way that we perceive the natural history of the world.
5. Josiah was a social pioneer & philanthropist
After a visit to the Port of Liverpool opened his eyes to the horror and cruelty of the slave trade, Josiah became an active anti-slave trade pioneer. Demonstrating a natural campaigning talent, he developed ceramic medallions to promote the humanitarian cause. Featuring a relief of an African slave and the question, 'Am I not a man and a brother?', the medallions urged merchants, investors and politicians to consider the human impact of slavery.
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