19th-century Jasperware urn sells for $1K, despite repairs

The Smart Collector

WHAT: In 1759 Britain, Josiah Wedgwood started a family-owned and -operated company that became Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. His first products were earthenware; one early innovation was a cream-colored ceramic decorated with a green, lead-based glaze that would never fly today.

When most think of Wedgwood now, it is the company’s classic Jasperware, a cameo-type relief of white decoration on a black, blue, pink or green matte ceramic background that comes to mind. Developed in the late 1700s, Jasperware is still made, primarily as decorative items.

MORE: When an advanced collector sold off pieces from a large collection at Quinn’s in Falls Church, Va., recently, a 9 1/4-inch-high circa 1820 Jasperware urn with cover sold for $1,000, despite repairs. Bidders responded to the age of the piece, the rarer dark blue background, and the unusual white draped decoration.


SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: The beauty of Jasperware is that collectors can hunt according to individual wants. Others simply buy what they like and can afford. Serious collectors want early pieces and will accept some level of damage in exceptional pieces. They pay for the best of a kind, for aesthetics, and for decoration or forms that speak to a specific era.

HOT TIP: Jasperware is white after firing; colors are achieved through a dip process. In the blue category alone, there are more than 12 shades of blue base.

BOTTOM LINE: Intended to be ornamental, contemporary Jasperware has devolved into a largely commercial product. Smart collectors know that items made in quantity to be sold expressly as collectibles never make it to big-bucks status in the secondary market.