Wedgwood Marks - a quick guide for Jasper and Basalt.
WEDGWOOD: Any date; this mark has been used from the very start until about 1930.
Wedgwood & Bentley, or W&B: 1772-1780. Never on jasper vases. W&B only on small pieces such as medallions. According to Reilly all black basalt made from 1769-1780 was either unmarked, or had this mark; however this is by no means certain; see the following paragraph. Apart from basalt, the Wedgwood & Bentley mark belongs to ornamental wares only; useful wares had WEDGWOOD or wedgwood.
Wedgwood: Before 1800; most likely 1780-1790. This mark belongs to the usefulwares factory before 1780. There is evidence to be found in Wedgwood's correspondence that the usefulwares factory was still making basalt tea sets during the Wedgwood & Bentley period (1769-1780) and marking it with this mark. Exceptional pieces of teaware with the mixed case mark could be from the W&B period. Ornamental wares with this mark are always after 1780.
wedgwood: About 1780-1790.
The comma, or moustache mark, looks like two dashes arranged like a moustache, or single open and close quotes - see below for examples. They are distinctly separate marks, and generally appear over or under the WEDGWOOD mark. This appears to be a potter's mark, and belongs to the period 1795-1850; perhaps a little later. It can also appear on later pieces, but other indications will help to place these pieces in the correct period.
England: 1891-1908 approx.
Made in England: C1909 onwards
WEDGWOOD: C1930 onwards (note the lack of serifs on this mark)
FABRIQUE EN ANGLETERRE; FABRICATION ANGLAISE: Used on items made for the French market from about 1900-1910.
ETRURIA: The name of the factory was added during two periods. The first was in 1840-1841, and is very rarely found. The second period was from about 1905 until the mid 1920's. The second period can be easily distinguished as the word ENGLAND will also appear. It wasn't always added, so its absence is not significant.
BARLASTON: Sometimes added from 1939 until the 1950's.
The ® after WEDGWOOD was added in 1975.
A number of references talk about marks being impressed a letter at a time, and assign early dates on this basis; however marks often look like this because the clay has moved in firing and this is very difficult to determine. I am also aware of at least one example on which the mark was made up a letter at a time, but which certainly dates from around 1790, so it is dangerous to assign too much meaning to this. Likewise the "curved" mark, often seen where it doesn't exist because of movement of the clay during firing.
The dates of the addition of ENGLAND and MADE IN ENGLAND are useful as a general guide, but are not always certain. When items were made that were not destined for export, they were sometimes omitted, and other indications will confirm the later date. The classic example is the Bert Bentley portrait medallions, which often had only ENGLAND, or nothing at all, but were mostly made in the 1920's. These often have a catalogue number beginning BB, and usually have Bert Bentley's mark: a zero on a slope or on its side. Other small items are sometimes missing these dating indications, such as the Ernest Light basalt animals.
Size codes are found on some items, particularly tea wares, from about 1870 to 1930. These are always divisible by 6, and represent the number of items that went into the kiln on one tray. A size in inches, which would be diameter, height or length of the item, sometimes appears on jasper and basalt items from around 1840.
Eighteenth century cameos and intaglios sometimes have a number impressed on the back that refers to the catalogue, and can be matched with the catalogues reprinted in the references. This could be a number, such as 27; or a full catalogue reference, such as C.IX N.25.
Shape numbers are often found inscribed on jasper vases up until around 1830; they are also sometimes found impressed from about 1830-1860.
Various single letters, numbers and symbols are often found on pieces and indicated the potter or decorator, so his pieces could be counted and he could be paid for them. These are not date marks and, with a few notable exceptions, have no meaning to us now.
A three letter date code is sometimes found and starts in 1860 but is rarely found on jasper or basalt items; it absence is not indicative of any date. When present, the last letter indicates the year as in the following table. From 1907, the first letter was replaced by a 3 or 4, making it possible to identify the different cycles. The earlier cycles can sometimes be distinguished by the use of the word England, but sometimes other indications are required to determine the date.
These are always three letters in a line e.g. ABC for 1874. Single letters are not date letters, they're tally marks, used to identify the potters who worked on a piece so they could be paid.
From 1935 or so, the year is given as a two or four digit number (eg 35 or 1935); though this is not always found until C1950.
|Letter||Cycle 1||Cycle 2||Cycle 3||Cycle 4|
A few examples:
| Pearlware wine bin label.
Serif WEDGWOOD mark at top; pre-1930
Impressed P: Pearlware identifier, from 1868
AKX: Three letter date code for 1869.
J: Tally mark identifying the potter who made the piece.
Caneware oil lamp.
Serif WEDGWOOD Mark; pre-1930
Comma Mark: C1795-1830; usually C1820.
|Black jasper dip vase.
A: Potter's tally mark
WEDGWOOD: Serif mark.
Moustache mark: C1795-1840. This example C1820.
130: Inscribed shape number.