Wednesday, September 2, 2009
A couple of weeks ago the Barlaston factory made redundant (laid off) more workers. There is no more jasper production except specially commissioned pieces, a few one off pieces in the Museum's exhibition area and high end prestige wares. It has come to our attention that Tuesday Morning is selling a blue and white "jasper" teaset in its stores. This set is part of the Wedgwood 250th anniversary celebration merchandise offering, but it is made in China, and is NOT traditional jasper. It is a molded bisque type product, think of the Christmas ornaments of late and you'll know what we mean. These same teasets are turning up now on eBay of course at far higher prices and it is our opinion unsuspecting buyers are going to be very disappointed when they discover what they have received. There is another complication, which Peggy Kerner, a friend and Wedgwood expert, has recently shared. The composition of the "new" porcelain Wedgwood seems to be calling Jasper does not meet proper lead content standards. Imagine this, going backwards several generations in the technology of safety. Probably don't want those tea parties to include actually drinking from the "new" faux jasper! Of course, those who just love the look won't be disappointed, they are lovely to look at! Unfortunately the company is not announcing the difference, and inexperienced shoppers won't have a way to know...so the words of the day are buyer beware!!! In the promo photo, the teaset looks like jasper! The only way for a Wedgwood collector to purchase real jasper and other Wedgwood dry body products now is on the secondary market. There are some companies selling a product they call Wedgwood Black Basalt, but the factory isn't making such; they did make some black jasper pieces with a special polishing technique to try to emulate basalt, but it is not basalt. Find a dealer you can trust, read up on the marks and ask questions. You won't find new Wedgwood dry bodied wares, i.e., jasper, basalt, caneware, etc., so relax with a good Wedgwood reference book, teach yourself then shop with a reputable dealer who knows the products. If you just love the jasper "look" then there are plenty of products around; one can find Wedgwood's new products on their own website. And Wedgwood certainly is continuing in the china dinnerware business, of course it is no longer English bone china, but china made in Indonesia by Wedgwood employees. Note the paper labels on many products, once these are washed away, there is no longer any manufacturer's identification!
We are frequently asked to appraise pieces of jasperware which aren't Wedgwood. One company which made gorgeous blue jasper was Adams. If you see the December, 2009 issue of The Magazine Antiques, check out the ad on page 31, a beautiful array of antique Adams blue & white jasper, ca 1790-1800. That's real jasper too! It's not Wedgwood jasper, but if you love the blue and white stoneware with classical figures in beautiful relief, you'll love looking at this photo. There is some gorgeous Christopher Dresser Minton china in another article, not to be missed!