The beginnings of Wedgwood China date back to 1730 with the birth of Josiah Wedgwood. His family manufactured pottery. By 1760, Josiah had his own factory for manufacturing pottery, experimenting with different formulas of porcelain, clays and glazes, as well as experimenting with the technological advances of transferring designs to the finished product. Five years later, he manufactured a whole set of Queen Charlotte and it was the striving point for his business. His crowning achievement however was the creation of Jasperware. It is a translucent clay that marries the basalt to produce a homogeneously colored stoneware. After over 10,000 unsuccessful experiments, in 1775 Jasperware was launched with an overwhelming success, especially to his customers in the new democracy of USA. During that time, as Josiah has said there was no item too costly or too rich for the Americans.
Josiah dies in 1795, leaving the business to his sons but they had no interest in running it. The nephew, Tom Byerly, was left in charge, but he was struggling greatly because he was in charge of a business he had little love for.
The next 25 years are very difficult for the company and then his son Josiah II takes over the business and turns things around. He restores the formulas and the business standards set by his father. But the constant economic turmoil and the growing competition made the 1800’s very difficult for the business. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that things began to improve under the leadership of Josiah V.
With the new production facilities and aggressive marketing strategy in America and worldwide, Wedgwood China products became prominent in the industry. In 1966, Wedgwood’s shares make it on the London Stock Exchange and since then the company aggressively expands. Nowadays we have the Wedgwood Group which comprises the assets of Royal Tuscan, Susie Cooper, Franciscan, William Adams, Waterford, Mason’s Ironstone and Rosenthal. Josiah I would be proud.
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