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Pottery & Porcelain (WXYZ) - Encyclopedia Of Antiques

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WEDGWOOD WARE: Josiah Wedgwood in 1759 started the business at Burslem, Staffordshire, which was eventually to become one of the most famous potteries in the world. At first he made the usual run of pottery products, but in 1762 he produced a cream ware which not only improved upon the earlier product but was to supplant salt-glaze ware and was to be copied by other potters, as well. Black basalt ware, of which Wedgwood is said to have been the inventor, was first produced in 1766 but the finest work in this ware was not done until much later.

In 1769 he established his works and built a village at Etruria. About 1775 he perfected his well-known jasper ware, and at about the same time he engaged the services of Flaxman, the famous sculptor, and his work has given a distinctive character to the Wedgwood work of the period. The most important piece of this ware was the reproduction in 1790 of the celebrated Portland Vase (q.v.).

Old Wedgwood is considered to be the finest pottery that England has ever produced in workmanship, design, material and color. No earthenware, native or foreign, combined so many technical perfections. The basalt and the jasper ware are the best known and most sought after by collectors. With one unimportant exception, a white biscuit with smooth and wax-like surface, Wedgwood made no porcelain, and only a few pieces of this are now in existence. In 1878, the manufacture of porcelain was revived, and has continued since. Josiah Wedgwood died in 1795, but the works have since been carried on by members of the family, some of the old molds still being in use. The firm continues to produce jasper, basalt, red, cream-colored, and all the other wares for which the factory is famous.

WHIELDON WARE: A term derived from the tortoise-shell ware made by Thomas Whieldon, and applied to all classes of ware of a mottled, cloudy or splashed character. Whieldon's tortoise-shell ware was soft, light in weight, with an excellent glaze and it was extremely rich in effect. Whieldon also made a solid agate ware (q.v. ) more artistic than had before been attempted and his tortoise-shell wares have always been looked upon as masterpieces of their time. All Whieldon's wares are comparatively rare and command high prices: He was one of England's greatest potters. Wedgwood was a partner 1754-1759, Aaron Wood was a modeler, and Spode and several other potters, who became noted, were apprentices of Whieldon, which doubtless helped to qualify them for their own future success.

WILLETS POTTERY: Started in 1853 by William Young & Sons at Trenton, New Jersey. This pottery became one of the largest in the Eastern states. At first, they made Rockingham and common white ware, but later, decorated pottery, opaque china and porcelain were made. Their Belleek ware is also noteworthy.

WILLOW PATTERN: Thomas Minton in 1780 engraved for Thomas Turner of Caughley this famous pattern, certainly the most popular design ever applied to pottery. Specimens of this earliest ware bear Turner marks. Minton afterwards joined Spode at Stoke-on-Trent and Spode was the first potter in Staffordshire to apply the pattern to earthenware. There were variants of the pattern and the Spode "Willow" can be distinguished from Wedgwood, Davenport from Adams, etc. The design is adapted from designs on Chinese porcelain imported into England, founded on a Chinese legend. By 1800 the pattern was pretty much common property among potters of both earthenware and porcelain, and it was also copied by Continental potters.

WINCANTON WARE: This pottery was established in Somersetshire about 1720 and the peculiarity of this ware is a slight pinkish hue in an excellent delft-like glaze, resembling that of Lambeth faience. The factory was closed about 1748.

WIRKSWORTH PORCELAIN: A factory established in Derbyshire about 1757 and continuing in operation until 1777. Closed for a time, it appears to have re-opened about 1804. The products were chiefly household ware. The paste was of good quality and fairly translucent. Decorations were similar to those of Lowestoft.

WORCESTER PORCELAIN: The Worcester Tonquin manufacture was founded in 1751, and Dr. John Wall was the active head until his death in 1776. Its history has been comparatively uneventful, but, alone of all the English porcelain ventures of the 18th century, Worcester has survived with a record of continuous activity down to the present day. No china has had so much written about it as old Worcester. The earliest china was made of "frit" paste (q.v.), which may be told by its density and by a greenish tint when seen by transmitted light. These earlier productions, consisting largely of tableware, were perhaps the most distinctive of all 18th-century porcelains. Their well-proportioned forms and careful finish are quickly recognized by the collector. Eventually a certain number of ornate pieces were made, but the main emphasis of the factory was always placed on useful ware. Worcester figures of the early period are very uncommon.

Imitations of Chinese porcelain with blue decoration on white ground were followed by the more brilliant colors and designs of the Japanese and Meissen motives. Among the most characteristic of all Worcester inventions were the so-called Japan patterns, which continued to be made from the earlier days until well into the 19th century. The best period of old Worcester china and the china richest in decoration was that made from about 1760 to 1783, the socalled Dr. Wall period, and this porcelain commands very high prices today. The salmon-scale blue ground was one of the characteristics of that period, and the gilding was of superlative quality.

Transfer-printing was introduced at Worcester about 1775, and their early printed china is the best of its class ever made in England. Printing was done in lilac and red, as well as in the usual brown or black or in under-glaze blue. Later, the printing was done by the "bat" process (q.v.).

The Dr. Wall period extended until 1783, at which time the company was taken over by Thomas Flight, the company's London agent, and the Flight name was connected with it until 1840 when the original company and Chamberlain and Company, another Worcester factory started in 1786, were combined. In 1862 the present Royal Worcester Porcelain Company came into existence. The prefix "Royal" was adopted by permission of the King in the Flight period. In Royal Worcester, gilding is the most important feature of the decoration, by means of which great delicacy is produced upon the creamy white lustreless surface for which the Worcester ware is noted. During its long period of existence Worcester porcelain has maintained a front rank for the superb beauty of forms, colors and decorations and for the immense variety of its designs.

WROTHAM WARE: This ware made in Wrotham, Kent County, in England from 1612, the earliest dated example, to about 1710 is noted for its superior slip decoration on tygs, posset-cups and bowls, with a reddish brown body. Medallions and other molded ornaments applied to the body to be decorated were frequently employed at Wrotham, also.

ZAFFRE: An impure oxide of cobalt of an intensely blue color, used in pottery. A small quantity was sometimes mixed with the glaze.