Josiah Wedgwood History And Stratton Powder Compacts
The collaboration of Laughton & Sons Ltd. (owners of Stratton compacts & accessories) & Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd. was one that worked so well. Laughton & Sons commissioned Wedgwood to make commemorative plaques to adorn their vanities and also purely decorative mounts.
Royal occasions were often marked by the crafting of limited edition Wedgwood Stratton powder compacts.
LIMITED EDITION QUEEN ELIZABETH II STRATTON COMPACT
For example, the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the marriage of HRH Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.
Wedgwood has a long association with European royalty.
Josiah Wedgwood was born in 1730 in the family pottery, known as the Church Yard Works, Burslem, as it was located next to St John's church. He was the fifth generation of potters.
Josiah Wedgwood was a potter who was credited with the vision to see the need for industrialisation of the pottery industry. Burslem is situated in an area known as The Potteries, in Staffordshire, England. Even when he was nine years old he was considered a skilled potter. When he was eleven years old he was struck down by smallpox. This illness left him with a tumour behind his right knee. Even though this disability made using the foot operated wheel painful this did not deter him from being involved with other aspects of making pottery. He focused his efforts on designing pottery, perfecting glazes and marketing. When he was in his twenties he began working with the well known & celebrated pottery-maker of the era - Thomas Whieldon.
Whieldon was so impressed with his hard work and talent that he offered him a partnership in 1754.
In 1759 Josiah founded his own company.
In 1760 America was bereft of pottery manufacturers. America was to become Wedgwood's most important international market.
Great experimentation took place & large amounts of money were invested by Josiah Wedgwood, who had married a wealthy distant cousin, Sarah Wedgwood in 1764. His obsession was to create a glaze the colour of driven snow. The purity of his white pottery gained him great financial rewards.
Wedgwood was a founding father of the Industrial Revolution. He was the first person to buy a steam engine.
He was also the most remarkable inventor.
WEDGWOOD ADORNS THIS ROOM IN THE PALACE OF ARCHDUKE ALBERT
Josiah Wedgwood was very interested in the scientific methods that were being developed & how they may advance his business. His unique glazes began to make his pottery look different from anything else available at the time. This ‘look’ garnered him much business from European royalty, as well as the rich & famous. He is probably the most well known potter of this era.
In 1765 Wedgwood received a letter from St James' Palace. He, along with all the potters in Staffordshire, was invited to take part in a competition to make a tea service for Queen Charlotte. By this time he had perfected his lovely white glaze but he needed a tea service fit for a queen. After months of experimentation he discovered that mixing honey with 22 carat gold and firing this mixture onto his white pottery at very high temperatures created the most exquisitely embellished crockery. He won the competition.
Ever the salesman, Wedgewood gained Queen Charlotte's permission to name this line of pottery Queen's Ware.
This association was made very public as it featured on Wedgwood stationery & paperwork.
Naturally this royal appreciation gained Wedgwood much trade from the nobility of England.
In 1926 the firm was still trading on this name as the advertisement below shows.
In 1766 Wedgwood bought a large Staffordshire estate (Etruria) where both his home & factory were situated.
He needed to ensure that Staffordshire was connected to the canal system which served Manchester, Birmingham and London so well. It took him eleven years to achieve this aim. Products from The Etruria Works could be loaded directly onto barges and shipped cheaply all around Great Britain.
After experimenting with kiln temperatures he perfected the skills needed to produce two new wares - Black Basalt & Jasperware. Jasperware was by far the most successful. It was made to look like ancient cameo glass. The inspiration for Wedgwood Jasperware was the Portland Vase.
This Roman vase was made 5 - 25 AD & it can be seen at the British Museum in London.
Reproducing the Portland Vase became an obsession for Josiah Wedgwood who created the Portland Blue after experimenting with more than 3000 samples.
When Thomas Bentley died in 1780 Wedgwood was bereft but still determined to make improvements to his wares and the working conditions of his employees. He was one of the first to include a type of air conditioning system in his factories to help extract fumes which could make the workers ill.
OVAL WEDGWOOD JASPERWARE PLAQUE
© Royal Collection Trust
Wedgwood would often travel to the port of Liverpool, as many of his shipments were bound for America. Whilst at the port he saw slaves. He was distraught and determined to do whatever he could to stop this dreadful trade.
Wedgwood was passionately involved with the abolition of the slave trade. Plaques embellished with moulded letters AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER crafted in his factories did much to promote this cause.
He gave many articles away free to promote the abolition of this abhorrent trade. Hat pins, brooches, bracelets, snuff boxes and watch chains were embellished with this design.
The plaques show an enslaved black man who is praying. His arms are chained to his legs. These plaques were modelled by William Hackwood or Henry Webber, modellers at the Wedgwood factory.
In 1788 Wedgwood sent a consignment of these medallions to Benjamin Franklin in the United States of America. Franklin ensured that they were distributed to campaigners and he remarked that they did much good for the cause.
This meticulous attention to detail ensured the success of the Wedgwood brand. Wedgwood & Stratton are two great British success stories.
Here are some Stratton brand Wedgwood compacts.