English Pottery And Porcelain
( Originally Published 1905 )
THAT the interest in old china is not subsiding is very evident from the inquiries of many correspondents who ask about pieces which they own. Recently I have had letters referring to an article published in 1901, the writers having had their questions in mind all that time, but just getting round to it."
Indeed, the true collector, when once embarked on his career, is seldom content to keep in one narrow path, but strays out in many directions, and finds pleasure in them all. In support of this theory I am tempted to quote a letter from an unknown correspondent, who finds much under her own roof, and is not only interested herself, but has managed to interest others. The letter begins, " Dear Friend," and after some kind and complimentary remarks, goes on as follows:
" I have made a fine collection of quaint old things from ` up garret' and elsewhere at home. Father's ancestors were among the earliest settlers of Ipswich, Mass., and my father is now living at the age of ninety years. My mother's family had a grant of three thousand acres in Orange County, N. Y., from Queen Anne, where they were all born, lived, and died, from that time; even my mother was born there. From these Huguenots I have little else than a ` Bull's Eye' watch, but from a generation later have linen coverlets, bullet-mould, powder-horn, etc., and shoe-buckles of General Washington's time. Now I sigh thinking of lovely, old things sold to the Junk man.' Every time I read anything you have written, I go ` a-rummaging'! The family all laugh at me, and call me ' Old Antique,' but they were interested enough, I notice, when I found an original ` led-pencil' and showed them the evolution of the Pen. First a quill, from a desk of 1755, the feather part all moth-eaten, then steel pens dedicated to Washington, Webster, Croton Water-works celebration in 1845, Free Mason, etc., down to our own Fountain pen. Such queer handles as there were among them ! I send this sketch of Pewter Shaving-box and soap-box with queer cake of soap, old and dried. Not the one stolen in 1777, I hope ! "
(This latter remark refers to an advertisement mentioned in the article on Pewter.)
To the majority of us china exerts a fascination which we cannot resist, and from the very nature of the field, since this country was so largely settled by emigrants from England, English china is what most naturally comes our way. Nor is there no possibility of collecting choicer wares also of English make, and in this chapter a number of specimens of porcelains, collected in this country, are given.
" How shall I know pottery from porcelain? " This question is asked me many, many times. They may be distinguished by the following very simple test: If you hold your piece up to the light and can see light through it, that is, if it is translucent, it is porcelain.
Pottery is opaque, and is not so hard and white as porcelain. The main differences in the manufacture of stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain are due to the ingredients used, to the way they are mixed, and to the degree of heat to which they are subjected in firing.
Most of the old English wares found in this country are pottery or semi-china, although the term china is commonly applied to them all.
The potteries in Staffordshire, covering an area ten miles long, were the most important in England, in view of the fact that besides Hanley, Cobridge, Fenton, Longport, Shelton, Tunstall, Lane End, and Stoke-on-Trent they included Burslem and Etruria, made famous by being the seats, first at Burslem and then at Etruria, of Wedgwood's potteries.
I have spoken before of the small price at which these pottery wares were sold when they were first made, and how the price has risen little by little until it has become quite preposterous. It must be distinctly borne in mind, however, that it is the historic crockery only which is so valuable, decorated with scenes relating to our own early history or to our heroes, and, with but a few exceptions, made in rich, dark blue.
One of the earliest Staffordshire products was what was known as " saltglaze " ware, — a certain coarse pottery which was glazed by putting salt in the kiln in which the objects were being fired. This ware was formed in moulds, and in the case of plates the borders were often exceedingly pretty and intricate, like that shown in Figure 28.
Occasionally the borders were openwork, and the surface of the ware is always pitted like orange peel.
This formation is caused by the way the salt forms on the surface of the ware while in the kiln.
Many of the moulds used were those of metal cast aside by silversmiths. Complete dinner and tea sets were made, as well as small figures. Very rarely flat ware is found painted in color upon the glaze.
There is a class of pieces made a little later than the dark blue and less interesting. They are printed in various colours, and have the merit of being decorative and comparatively cheap. Figure 29 shows such a piece; it is part of a set called " Picturesque Views," made by Clews, and this particular view is called " Near Fishkill." You will find them in black, red, green, purple, brown, and a medium shade of blue. An artist named Wall, from Dublin, Ireland, made the original sketches of these scenes, and there were about twenty-five in all. You can always tell them by their border, which is of flowers and scrolls, with two birds placed at intervals among the scrolls. Besides the views of Hudson River scenery, the " Picturesque Views " contain two views of Pittsburg, with boats in the fore-ground, and one of " Fairmount Water Works, Philadelphia." You will find these pictures on flat ware, i.e., plates and platters, on vegetable dishes, and pitchers. Plates in good condition, ten-inch size, like the one shown, are worth, at the very highest, five dollars; smaller sizes, less. Platters, fifteen-inch size, well printed and clear, will perhaps fetch ten dollars.
There are views by other makers, like Adams or Jackson, which are harder to find and more desirable.
In Figure 30 is shown such a plate made by Adams, and called " Catskill Mountain House." The Adams pottery is always good, and there are over a dozen different views taken in various parts of the Eastern States. They range in price from two to two and a half dollars higher, size for size, than the Clews pieces. Jackson's pottery, of which there are over thirty views, varies much in price, the " Hancock House " plate commanding twenty dollars, while " The President's House, Washington," is worth but half that sum.
In the deep blue Staffordshire I show in Figure 31 two English views, and there are doubtless many pieces belonging to these and other series tucked away in odd places and half forgotten. The beautiful fourteen-inch platter at the top is by Adams, and shows the " Castle of Fleurs, Roxburghshire," on one of the finest estates in Scotland. The castle was built in 1718, and belongs to the Duke of Roxburghe, who recently married an American girl, Miss May Goelet, so that the interest in this piece may well increase till it becomes as popular as the views below it, which are of " Blenheim," the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, who married Miss Vanderbilt.
Both of the lower views are of Blenheim, the one on the right being by Adams, and much the rarer and finer of the two. The other one is by an unknown maker. The Adams piece has long been esteemed by collectors for the beauty of its colouring and printing, and the international complication has just given it an added touch of interest. Both the Fleurs platter and the Blenheim plate belong to the same series, as will be seen by examining the border. It cannot be too often mentioned what a very important part the border takes in these old plates. By its means the maker of a piece can usually be identified, for, al-though the old potters " borrowed " the central views from each other with the greatest freedom, they were very scrupulous with reference to duplicating borders. Only in a few instances, where potteries and the blocks on hand passed to other owners, was there con-fusion. These instances are quite well known, as, for example, the similar patterns used by A. and R. Stevenson, and the famous bluebell border used by both Adams and Clews. Adams was, however, generally quite particular to sign his name, and it appears in the scroll with flowers which is on the back of the plate.
Indeed, there is hardly anything ceramic which bears the name of Adams which is not worthy of the collector's interest. There are those who confine themselves to articles made by the Adamses only, and they possess varied and beautiful objects. The Adamses came of a race of potters, and William Adams, the friend and pupil of Wedgwood, was one of the few who used the splendid jasper body invented by Wedgwood with almost the skill and taste of that master himself. The years when Adams worked, from 1787 to 1805, was the time when the classical figures of Flaxman had such a vogue. In Figure 32 is shown a group of the jasper pottery made by Adams, and the grace and elegance of the figures speak for themselves.
It is often said that Adams " copied " Wedgwood, but while it is true that he worked in the same manner and material, there are details which are all his own, and his use of colour and form was quite original with him. It is also true that of all the potters working at that time, his work, in its finish, came the nearest to the perfection of Wedgwood's, and after the death of the latter, in 1795, many pieces of Adams' jasper had his name erased from them by unscrupulous dealers and were sold as Wedgwood.
After the death of William Adams his son carried on the business, and in 1849 and 1850 made some of the earliest Parian figures put on the market. The earliest use of this material was by the firm of Cope-land and Garrett, who succeeded Spode. They potted at Stoke-on-Trent and had used Parian in 1848. But the Adams figures far excelled all others, and how charming they were can be seen from the small group shown in Figure 33.
Still another field for the collector who delights to specialise is in collecting one branch of the splendid English views, like the cathedrals. In Figure 34 are shown three views of York Minster, — the upper one by Stevenson, the lower one with the steamboat a rare piece by an unknown maker, and the other one by John Geddes, also uncommon.
Views of cities like the one of Southampton (Figure 35) are always attractive and ornamental, and you do not realize the beauty of colour and the immense variety of shades used by these Staffordshire potters till you have a dozen or more pieces by different potters on your walls.
The coats of arms of the different states is an interesting if limited field, and although a number of these pieces were made by T. Mayer, at Burslem, England, for the American market, in the popular dark blue, about 1829 and later, they are not easily 'found. Two even less common renderings of the arms of Maryland are given in the next two figures (36 and 37), and though these are highly coloured, they are Staffordshire ware, the one with the designs on the rim having the impressed mark " Ironstone, while the other has no mark.
Religious scenes are represented by The Woman of Samaria (Figure 38), by Wood, which is a hand-some dark blue plate, and there are other designs by such makers as Adams and the Ridgways, who also put out religious subjects. There are patterns on cups and saucers which interest collectors, and though they are not so easy to display as flat ware, still they do not take so much room as jugs. Wesley appears not only on cups and saucers, like the one shown (Figure 39), which, although modern, being printed in 1891, is al-ready quite rare, but in Staffordshire busts, some of them nine inches high. Such are to be picked up occasionally, and I saw one the other day at auction go for twenty dollars.
Washington china, that is, scenes and pictures of Washington himself, command the attention of collectors who do not mind paying fancy prices for the old blue. Everything connected with Mount Vernon has an interest for all of us, and though we may not all buy such fine jugs as the one given in Figure 40, we would like to.
Other patterns of Staffordshire ware which are immensely popular among the collectors who do not mind giving large prices for their hobbies are the Dr. Syntax and Wilkie designs and those referring to Don Quixote. Just why the last-named series does not command the same high prices as even the Wilkie set cannot be explained. It is by Clews, is well printed as a rule, has a good border, and is not half so gross as the Wilkie set, one of which is given in Figure 41, and which is called Playing at Draughts."
There are many reasons why the Syntax designs have such a great popularity, one of them being that love for the grotesque which is latent in almost every one of us, another being the interesting facts in connection with the production of these drawings and the accompanying verses, and third, the beauty of the printing of the pieces, which were made by the Clews in their very best style.
The drawings by Rowlandson were made about 1 810, and the verses were reeled off, to accompany them, by William Comb, a most prolific writer of all kinds of matter, which nevertheless was not profitable enough to enable him to pay his debts, since he was an inmate of the King's Bench debtors' prison for twenty-three years, and it was in that far from cheerful spot that he wrote the lines for the three tours of Dr. Syntax, the first one, " Tour in Search of the Picturesque," being followed by " Tour in Search of Consolation," and the third, " In Search of a Wife."
The designs were made on china between 1820 and 1830, and the prices realised for this printed pottery seem marvellous. Twenty to forty dollars for plates, one to three and four hundred dollars for platters, seem too high figures to be maintained, but so few of these pieces remain to be picked up that it is thought that the prices may go higher still. The dishes shown in Figure 42 have scenes on them from all three Tours, the one showing so plainly on the side of the tureen being " Dr. Syntax and the Gypsies "; the verse which accompanies it is as follows:
" Patrick, unwilling to be idle,
And. so it goes on. One of the designs which commands the highest price is called " Pat in the Pond," to which retreat he had betaken himself to rid himself of
"Bugs or fleas, whate'er they be,
As might have been expected, when it was found that this china brought such large prices, counterfeiters set to work and made spurious copies of " Dr. Syntax telling the Bees," " Dr. Syntax painting a Portrait," "Dr. Syntax taking a Gentleman's House for an Inn." This has, of course, made collectors very chary of buying any of these patterns, since it has lessened even the price of the genuine ones.
At Liverpool there have been potteries since 1600, and the first wares were, of course, excessively crude, and were blue and white, in imitation of the Dutch, who in their turn copied from the Chinese.
Very little of the " Liverpool Delft," as it is called, can be found here, and it is chiefly in the form of tiles. There is, however, much other Liverpool pottery, commonly known as " black-printed ware." It is very decorative, of small cost, and good to have in a collection or for ornament merely. Printing on china was a Liverpool invention, perfected about 1752 by a man named John Sadler. By this process the production of decorated china was materially lessened in cost, since, previously, all the decoration had been done by hand. The body of Liverpool pottery, that is, the paste itself, is a fine cream colour, very even in tone and very light in weight. Figure 43 shows an exceedingly popular pattern, and I have found these plates all over the country, sometimes even set up in museums with high-sounding names applied to them. Although they are nice and interesting, they are not worth more than one dollar and a quarter.
But while such a piece as this is reasonable, you may spend almost a fortune on printed wares, particularly if you get together such a collection as that shown in Figure 44. Each one of these pieces is a treasure, and many varieties of English ware are here shown.
During the last quarter of the eighteenth century there was started in the town of Castleford, near Leeds, England, a pottery from which was sent out much basaltes (black ware) , Queen's ware (cream coloured), and a white pottery known as Castleford ware. These works were closed in 1820, and the white ware for which they were chiefly noted was no longer made. A quantity of this ware was sent to this country, and the pieces which seem to have survived are the teapots. They were made not only with the lifting lid, like the one in Figure 45, but with the lid fastened with metal pins. As can be seen, the ware was extremely pretty, with a wreath of graceful ornament, and this specimen is unusual in having a panel decorated in colours. Even less common were the pieces decorated with portraits of Washington and Franklin, which were in medallions, either in plain white relief or on a blue background. I heard from the owner of a pitcher with such medallions only a few days since. Sometimes the surface of this Castleford ware is pitted much like saltglaze ware, but this was caused by having the inside of the mould thickly set with small points, which left corresponding depressions on the surface of the object.
The name Spode always stands for what is good and advisable to have. In 1770 Josiah Spode, then about forty years of age, began working as a potter. All the ware which he made is called " Old Spode," to distinguish it from the later product of the factory, and it is extremely valuable. His son succeeded to the factory at the death of his father, in 1797, and about 1800 commenced to manufacture stone china, and a little later to make porcelain. William Copeland be-came a partner in the firm in 1797, and it is his descendants who manufacture pottery and porcelain at the present time. Old Spode is marked " Spode," in printed letters, impressed. This mark is prior to 1797. From 1800 to 1827 the mark is impressed or painted on in red, blue, or purple. Occasionally " Stone China " or " Feldspar Porcelain "' is added. Jasper ware, black ware, and the decorated ware, in blue, red, and gold, and made by Josiah Spode himself, are valuable. After 1827, when the younger Spode died, the firm name was entirely changed, and if Spode was used at all it was put " Late Spode." I give two examples of the second Spode, -- one a plate, with decoration in medium blue, and the other a very beautiful one of St. Peter's and the Castle of San Angelo, Rome " (Figures 46 and 47).
The town of Bristol, England, was one of the first to take advantage of the growing popularity of pottery ware, " Bristol Delft " it was called, and there are records of potters' work at that town as early as 1706. The drug or medicine jars were one of the early products, and in the specimen given (Figure 48) the earthenware body is covered by a stanniferous glaze, and the decoration is in a gray blue. It was not long before the ware was greatly improved, and they were making such pieces as the plate shown in Figure 49. Bristol porcelain and that made at Ply-mouth, the manufacture of which ceased at both places before 1800, has such a value and is so rarely to be found in America that we will not linger on it.
In Figure 50 is given a vase of Plymouth porcelain, which was formed in a mould, and is of that brilliant milky white which was such a marked feature of this porcelain.
More easily to be obtained, though just why one cannot say, are specimens like that shown in Figure 51. This is a twelve-inch platter of Crown-Derby porcelain, marked with the crown and " D " in vermillion, which places its time of manufacture at about 1788, what is known as the second Duesbury period. In the limited space of a single chapter it is impossible to tell, even in the most concise manner, the various changes and the different hands into which these old potteries passed. It is enough to say that any of these early specimens are choice, and it is very seldom that they come under the head of " bargains," like the little platter shown. It is painted in the familiar reds and blues, with sparing touches of green, and some gold, and it and another two inches larger were recently bought in Rochester, New York, for five dollars each.
I can hardly bear to think of these platters, for as I hesitated a moment the one shown was bought, not by a collector, but by one who liked the " pretty colouring." The owner herself put the price upon them, but they are worth many times this sum, and would be eagerly bought if' the present owners could be induced to part with them.
Some Crown-Derby cups and saucers are also shown (Figure 52), rather less ornamental in pattern than the little platter, but still bearing the old crown mark.
In the following illustration (Figure 53) is shown a cup, saucer, and plate of Old Worcester porcelain, which must not be confused with " Royal Worcester," — a modern ware which has flooded this country for years and has many imitators, both professional and amateur.
The Worcester Old Works were started in 1751, and remained in operation till 1847, though they passed through many different hands. Blue in a cobalt or turquoise shade, and also enamel blue, made the Worcester porcelain very much in demand, and a very high-class transfer printing was made here also, the designs for which were made by two artists, Richard Holdship and Robert Hancock. :Both these men had a way of signing their drawings " R. H." in a mono-gram, thereby producing endless confusion and much wrathy discussion among china collectors of the present day. Figure 54 shows a teapot decorated with one of the well-known designs of Robert Hancock. I have heard it called " General and Mrs. Washington having tea at Mount Vernon," the presence of a small black boy near at hand helping out the idea. It is an English scene, however, and it was the fashion of those days to have pages, either black or white, constantly at hand to do the bidding of my lord or lady.
This teapot is one of a collection which is creeping up to two thousand, the majority of which were obtained in this country. The cup, plate, and saucer are museum specimens, and are at Boston. They are painted, not printed, the decoration on the plate being that shade of gray blue known to the Oriental as " sky seen through clouds after rain."
The history of the Worcester potteries since they were first started by Dr. Wall, in 1751, is a long and interesting one. At one time and another there have been, besides the " Old Works," Chamberlain's Works and Grainger's Works. In 1902 all the companies which were still in existence were taken over by the " Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Limited," and it is through the courtesy of that company that I am able to show specimens of Worcester transfer printing, which was made about 1756, when this style of work was first done at that place. Its clearness and beauty is plainly to be seen from the photograph (Figure 55) .
Specimens of Chamberlain's porcelain, and some mugs, and a cup of the early Worcester are also shown.
Within the last year, at Cooperstown, New York, a quantity of old porcelain has come to light. A farmer was ploughing, when suddenly the plough struck some hard substance, and a moment later there was a crash as of broken crockery. Investigation proved that he had struck a wooden chest, filled with china articles. There were eighty pieces in all, and fifty were saved in a perfect condition. As for the chest, it had crumbled to bits on exposure to the air, only the rough iron lock and hinges surviving. The history of these specimens is known. They were buried one hundred and twenty-five years ago by Percifer Carr, who was employed by Colonel Edmeston, an officer in the French and Indian Wars. The Colonel received for his services a grant of one thousand acres, and Carr had a comfortable home on this land. Indian troubles caused him to leave for a time, and he buried his china. Among the pieces are some very choice Old Worcester, with both Hancock's and Holdship's designs, very similar to the teapot shown. Other pieces are in plain blue, and in brown and pink.
The farmer who ploughed up these treasures, for they are almost as valuable as gold, has not been allowed to retain them, as he only rented the farm. The owner of the property stepped in and claimed, them, and after they had reposed in a bank under the care of a sheriff for some months, the court upheld his claim. Collectors from all over the country have been interested to have them come on the market.
In Figure 58 is given one of those lovely graceful creamers which go by the name of " Helmet Pitchers." For over half a century such pitchers and other china of similar paste and decoration have gone under the name of " Lowestoft," and have been the delight and pride of hundreds of collectors. It is only within the last few months that it has been definitely decided that no such ware was either made or decorated in England, but that it is entirely of Oriental manufacture. At the little English town of Lowestoft have been unearthed fragments both of moulds and bits of pottery, which go to prove that the ceramic products of that town were no different from what was made in other English towns at the same period.
So now all this fine bluish white pottery, with its birds and flowers and coats of arms, comes under the head of " armorial china," and it has not lost in value nor in beauty, if it has taken a less high-sounding name.
Lovely as are the porcelains of Chelsea, Derby, Bow, Plymouth, and Worcester, as mere artistic productions, they yield the palm to the work of one man. None of these porcelains mentioned were the product of a single mind; they were the result of experiments by many.
On the other hand, the great Wedgwood invented most of his own products, formed the first specimens with his own capable hands, and directed and controlled those vast works which were the growth of his own genius. He disputes with Palissy for the position of " greatest potter."
Specimens of Wedgwood's wares are to be found in this country, and within the past year I have come across a cup, saucer, and plate with brown-printed jessamine border for decoration; a tray for fruit of the early rich green glaze decorated with strawberries and leaves, and a vase twelve inches high, of the black encaustic ware, dull finish, with beautiful classic figures on it in red, and a handsome egg-and-drop border enhanced with a little white enamel. Each of these pieces is marked, and the vase is numbered as well. The cup, saucer, and plate were bought for two dollars; the fruit tray was got of a Polish Jew for a quarter, the purchaser believing it to be some modern majolica, and selecting it solely on account of its colour. The vase I saw standing on the mantel-shelf of a house where there are many choice and beautiful objects. In reply to my questions the hostess answered :
" Yes, it is a nice old vase. We 've always had it as long as I can remember. It has been mended, for it was knocked on the hearth once in dusting." She did not know who made it, its value, or anything, save " they 'd always had it." Yet on the base of the plinth was the name Wedgwood clearly and neatly cut, and beside it the number 34. The vase had not been broken, but the fall had loosened the plinth from the body of the vase. These two parts were joined together by an iron screw and nut, and the latter had apparently rusted out. The repairer had simply put a new brass nut on the old iron screw. It was quite impossible to resist dilating on the beauty and rarity of this vase and its value.
When next I saw the owner she said:
" What you told me about our black vase has destroyed my pleasure in it ! "
" Why? " I asked.
" Since I knew it was so valuable I 've been nervous for fear it will get broken, and have locked it up in the cabinet, and now we cannot enjoy it at all!"
Wedgwood's products are easily and clearly grouped. He never made any porcelain. Nor did he ever protect any of his valuable inventions, save in one case, but allowed his brother potters to benefit by his experiments and to reap the reward of his labours. His earliest wares were the tortoise-shell and agate pottery, and the highly coloured green glaze already referred to.
Then came the perfected cream-coloured or " Queen's Ware," like the teapot in Figure 59, either decorated or plain. The name " Queen's Ware " was given to this pottery in honour of Queen Charlotte, who visited the pottery works and admired it. It varies in colour from pale cream to almost a deep straw or sulphur yellow, and has an admirable clearness of tone, which makes it a very good background for decoration.
As early as 1761 Wedgwood was making teapots, and in fact whole sets for either tea or dinner, for caudle as well as for many other uses, and all in this ware. It was not expensive, for a dinner set of one hundred and forty-six pieces cost at wholesale about twenty dollars. That some of these sets came over here is well known, for, artist though he was, Wedgwood was a man of business as well, and did not neglect any market, particularly such a promising one as the American Colonies offered.
I have found in early newspapers advertisements of wares that I am sure were Wedgwood's, like the following, for instance, where James Gilliland, dealer in earthenware, Delft, and glass, with a shop in Wall Street, New York, enumerates " enamelled and cabbage teapots " among other goods. This was as early as 1760. Not only was this cream-coloured ware painted, but it was printed as well, and so beautifully and care-fully executed that it was almost as handsome as if painted.
Perhaps the thing in which Wedgwood took the most pride, and naturally too, was the dinner set made for Catherine II, Empress of Russia, for use at the Palace of Grenouilliere, which was a part of Tzarsko-Selo, near St. Petersburg. The commission was arranged through Mr. Baxter, who was English Consul at St. Petersburg at the time, and in June, 1774, the set was finished. The firm of Wedgwood and Bentley, as it was at that time, considered it of sufficient importance to advertise it, and this was the way they did it :
"Wedgwood and Bentley inform the Nobility and Gentry, that those who chose to see a Table and Desert Service, now set out at their new Rooms, in Greek-street, may have free tickets for that purpose, at the ware-house in Great Newport-street, and that none can be admitted without tickets."
All the world flocked to see the set, and many have recorded their impressions about it. The designs used to ornament it were English country seats and landscapes, and as soon as the ware was made at Etruria it was sent to Chelsea to be painted, where Wedgwood had gathered together the best pottery painters of the day. There were 925 pieces, each one of which had a different scene on it, and on the underside of each piece was a shield, enclosing a green frog. A few duplicates were made, and some pieces which had imperfections were set aside. Some of these duplicates are in museums, and the plate shown here, Moore Park (Figure 60) , is from the collection of Mr. E. J. Sidebotham, of England, who is the fortunate possessor of three pieces.
Of the original set nothing is known now. But it seems impossible that so many hundred pieces should have disappeared, even in Russia. Collectors are al-ways hoping that it will turn up in some corner of that great and distracted empire.
Then Wedgwood perfected black ware, or basaltes, — a form of pottery long known, but never brought to its highest excellence till the master potter turned his attention to it. He used this basaltes in many ways, — for vases, portrait medallions, teasets, and for special use in the " Colonies," in the form of a small round inkstand, which, according to the maker, had many advantages over any other inkstand then on the market.
In Figure 61 is shown a portrait medallion in basaltes set in silver, which brings out admirably its velvet blackness. These medallions are splendidly finished, being cut by hand after they were taken from the mould, so as to bring out the head sharply from the background and make it perfect in every detail. Some of these exquisite heads and figures are small enough to be set in a ring or an ear-drop, while others are four by three inches. The most common size is two by one and three-quarter inches, like the one shown. When the name of the subject of the medallion was printed on the front, the name Wedgwood was scratched on the back. When the name of the subject is not given, then Wedgwood is often impressed on the front.
People often tell me that they own Wedgwood. I always ask, " Is it marked? " You may set it down as a rule that all real Wedgwood, that is, " Old Wedgwood," is marked with his name. It was trial pieces only, and such as escaped the workman's notice, that left the pottery unmarked. There are peculiarities about this marking, too, which must be noted. The name, in small capitals, is always clearly and carefully marked, whether impressed or printed in colour. " Old Wedgwood " is that pottery made before the decease of Josiah Wedgwood, in 1795. The firm was continued and is still potting, but the cunning of the master's hand has left the work. After 1795, besides the name Wedgwood, other marks were used. Three letters, like " R. S. B.," " A. T. Q.," etc., and others in combination were frequently seen, and there were arbitrary marks as well to indicate special patterns and periods.
Greatback and Hackwood, two of the best modellers in the time of Josiah Wedgwood, sometimes put their initials on the back of a piece, but Wedgwood objected to this, and suppressed such marks as much as possible. Undoubtedly the highest and finest product made by Wedgwood was, in the estimation of the public, his jasper ware. He calls it " a white porcelain bisque of exquisite beauty and delicacy, possessing the quality of receiving colour through its whole sub-stance. This renders it peculiarly fit for cameos, portraits, and all subjects in bas-relief, as the ground may be made of any colour throughout, and the raised figures are in pure white."
Of the pieces shown in Figure 62 little need be said, since their beauty is so obvious.
Many of the figure subjects used on jasper vases were drawn by John Flaxman, who became celebrated for his drawings of classical subjects. At the time he entered Wedgwood's employment he was a poor and unknown young man, and it was due largely to the encouragement and liberal payment given by Wedgwood that Flaxman became as well known as he did in after years. Every ornament and slightest detail that came from the Wedgwood potteries prior to 1795 was finished with the greatest care. Nothing slovenly or slipshod would pass muster before the conscientious proprietor. His life, busy and prosperous, is a model to be studied by anyone anxious to succeed, and shows that the heights of success are reached only by unceasing and persevering effort.