Page images

of Harrison," the works here would in time have become as celebrated as the later ones of Wedgwood have done.

The works at Stoke are not now in existence, having been destroyed many years ago. They were, I am informed, at the failure of Harrison, bought by Josiah Spode, who pulled them down, and built cottages in their place.

In 1754 Wedgwood and Harrison entered into partnership with Thomas Whieldon, the most eminent potter of his day. The partnership with Harrison, however, continued but for a very short period, and in two years from Wedgwood first joining him (in 1752), he went out of the concern altogether, and the two remaining partners, Wedgwood and Whieldon, continued in partnership for five years. The basis of this union was the secrets of the trade which Wedgwood possessed, and was to practise for their common benefit without any stipulation to reveal them.

“Mr. Wedgwood,” says a document I have before me, “ spent six months in preparing the models, moulds, and other necessary apparatus for this work, and the first fruit of his genius was a new GREEN earthenware, having the smoothness and brilliant appearance of glass. He made principally of this ware services of dessert ; the forms were different kinds of leaves, and the plates were moulded with fruits grouped in a very fanciful way, and they had a considerable sale. He also made toilet vessels, snuff-boxes, and many different toys for mounting in metals, coloured in imitation of precious stones. When he offered these things to the jewellers of London and Bath, they considered them as the productions of some valuable discovery, the nature of which they could not guess at. But there was one of them, among the first at that time in fashion, who, having bestowed many encomiums upon them, excused himself from encouraging their sale when he heard the low price at which their maker estimated them. It was during this connection that he was so much reduced by his complaint, and rendered incapable of attending to business. He was then under the necessity of communicating the knowledge



of his mixtures to a workman, and these two first works soon became a general manufacture in the neighbourhood.”

In 1754, then, Josiah Wedgwood became the partner of Thomas Whieldon, at whose works at Fenton Low the two carried on their business, bringing to bear on the concern their united skill and united taste. Whieldon at that time was a man of substance, and had been in business as a potter for many years. “ In 1740,” says Shaw, “Mr. Thomas Whieldon's manufactory at Little Fenton consisted of a small range of low buildings, all thatched. His early productions were knife hafts for the Sheffield cutlers, and snuff-boxes for the Birmingham hardwaremen to finish with hoops, hinges, and springs, which himself usually carried in a basket to the tradesmen, and, being much like agate, they were greatly in request. He also made toys and chimney ornaments, coloured in either the clay state or biscuit, by zaffre, manganese, copper, &c., and glazed with black, red, or white lead. He also made black glazed tea and coffee-pots, tortoiseshell and melon table plates (with ornamented edge and six scollops, as in the specimens kept by Andrew Boon, of the Honeywall, Stoke), and other useful articles. Mr. A. Wood made models and moulds of these articles ; also pickle leaves, crab stock handles, and cabbage-leave spouts for tea and coffee-pots, which utensils, with candlesticks, chocolatecups, and tea-ware, were much improved, and his connections extended subsequently, when Mr. J. Wedgwood became his managing partner. He was a shrewd and careful person. To prevent his productions being imitated in quality or shape, he always buried the broken articles, and a few months ago we witnessed the unexpected exposure of some of these by some miners attempting to get marl in the road at Little Fenton. The fortune he acquired by his industry enabled him to erect a very elegant mansion near Stoke, where he long enjoyed, in the bosom of his family, the fruits of his early economy. He was also sheriff of the county in the twenty-sixth year of the late reign. The benevolence of his disposition, and his integrity, are honourable traits


of character, far superior to the boast of ancestry without personal merit.

He died in 1798 at a very old age, and in 1828 his relict was interred beside him in Stoke churchyard. Of the four apprentices to Mr. Whieldon, three commenced business, and were eminently successful : Mr. Josiah Spode (the first), Mr. Robert Garner, Mr. J. Barker, and Mr. Robert Greatbach,” &c.

Whieldon had already acquired a reputation for his wares far exceeding that of most, or almost any, of the potters of his day, and was thus as desirable a partner for Wedgwood, as Wedgwood, with his exquisite taste and skill, was for him. He had increased his works very considerably, and was employing many hands, some of whom became eminent and wealthy potters. I have now before me the original account-book of hirings, and lettings of land and houses, &c., of Thomas Whieldon, in which all the entries are in his own handwriting, and show him to have been a man of precise and careful business habits, and of good education. From this highly interesting book, in which the entries extend over the period from 1747 to 1754, with some entries of a still later date, I shall in my next chapter make a few

a extracts, to show the rate of remuneration paid to potters in the days when Josiah Wedgwood first began business, and the curious bargains and customs which were usual at hirings, which, it may be well to remark, were always, among potters, from Martinmas to Martinmas.




[ocr errors]

Having traced the career of Josiah Wedgwood from his birth down through the period of his apprenticeship and his affliction, and so on, through his short partnership with Harrison, at the start of life, to the time when he was fairly embarked in business with his second partner, Thomas Whieldon, at Fenton, it will now be interesting to give some few further particulars relating to Whieldon, and to his works, and to the varieties of wares produced by him ; and I am enabled to do this partly by the aid of the original accountbook kept by Whieldon, which is now in my possession.

In 1749, Thomas Whieldon built for himself an addition to his works, and as these were the works at which Wedgwood, as a partner, carried on his business, the following account of the “Expenses of the new end & Seller of the Over Work-house,” copied from the curious old accountbook to which I have alluded, will be found to possess much interest:

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



£ 8. d. June 10. John Wood, at sinking Seller, * 8 days 0 8 0 Hancock, 8 days

0 7 4 Stananer, 2 days

0 0 10 17. Wood, 3 days

0 3 0 Hancock, 3 days

0 9 » Boys to help

0 2 0 Stanner, 2 days

. 0 1 8
19. Ed. Shaw, 41 days.

Thos. Shaw, 41 days.
Jno. Shaw, 4 days.
Saml. Hardy, 4 days.
His bov, 41 days.
Henny, 4 days.
Mearheath, 5, days.

Saml. Astley, 4) days.
At serving Masons-

Jno. Cressall, 6 days.
June 12. Jarvis Forister carrd. 4 load. Brick

from Brickd.
Isaac Greatbach card. abot. 5 load.

1 load sand brt. wth. him.
13. Jarvis, 2 load Brick.

2 load sand from Bridge.
Isaac, 4 load brick.
14. Isaac wth. one Team most the day.
15. Jarvis Forister, all day wth. standing

tumbrell, but come late.
16. Jarvis Forister, 1 day wth. one Tum-

17. do. card. abt. 5 or 6 load.

Ed. Shaw.
26. Pd. for pilinge for thack

0 16 8
Wm. Daniell, 2 days.
Jno. Wood, a day wrkg.
Pd. for Springles

0 1 0
Do. for getting Clay out of Sellor 0 4 9
Ale at Rearing

0 2 0
Casements, 5. Ibs.
Barrs for windows, abt. 4. lbs. from

Pd. for glazing to Hattop, 30 foot
@ 6d..

0 16 0
Pd. John Heaton

0 6 0

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »