Friday, 15 March 2013

Jasperware 1775 - today

I've only found one weeny bit of Jasperware on the Thames foreshore. Apart from transferware it's the only pottery I was familiar with before this mudlarking thing started. Displayed in the South London suburban houses of my youth,  I knew it as 'Wedgwood' rather than Jasperware. Three decades later I haven't quite overcome my youthful allergy to it. 

Mudlarking Find: Jasperware  stoneware 
I can now at least appreciate the technical achievement. A type of refined matt stoneware, developed by Josiah Wedgwood in 1775 in his search for the secrets of porcelain. 

He named it after the stone 'jasper', the white version,  the 'base' colour of this pottery. The stoneware was then stained with oxides, either pale blue, dark blue, green, brown, black or yellow. The oxide permeated throughout in the early versions and is termed 'solid'. Costs were later cut by dipping so only the surface was coloured. 
1789-1795 Jasperware Teapot (V&A) 

Contrasting neoclassical bas- relief designs made this his trademark design and a wide range of products were produced, cameos, vases, portrait medallions and  tableware. 

Tea Canister 1795- 1800 (V&A) 
Incredibly popular, it was quickly imitated by others including Adams. It began to go out of fashion around 1811. In later years when I learnt that Wedgwood had been an advocate of the abolishion of slavery, giving large amount of money to the  cause and producing and distributing the equivalent of antislavery 'badges', his goods were suddenly imbued  with virtue.
Anti Slavery Medallion 1787 (V&A) 


  1. I love your blog - it's beautifully addictive. I discovered it a few days ago researching what permits my children and I should have to mudlark in April when we're in London (from Seattle). We spontaneously climbed down at low tide last year on a London trip, and found wonderful pipes and ceramics and a jug handle (the kids insisted on keeping the sheep leg bone we thought was a violin neck at first, until the Museum of London people pointed to an identical bone in a display - brought the thing all the way back to Seattle). Last year we were along the Southwark side east of Waterloo station, west of Tate. This year we'll be staying at Elephant & Castle. Would you recommend we mudlark at the same spot again, or is there somewhere else we should go? Should we try Greenwich in conjunction w/Cutty Sark (then I have to carry the bag of mucky treasure all day - is there more pottery there? The views are certainly beautiful.) Or is mudlarking like fishing and I've committed a major faux pas asking where to catch stuff? It won't be a super low tide while we're there, but we hope for kid-pleasing pottery to make a collage at home. Surface/eyes only, of course. Thank you for your blog!

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  3. Thank you! Are regular people without a permit - eyes only - allowed to mudlark on the north side of the Thames by Millenium Bridge? That would be easy for us, but we won't have a permit. Not sure I need the adventure of chatting with police in front of my big-eyed kids. We are planning to visit Cutty Sark - it was still closed last year when we were in London - now I think I'm talking myself into two mornings of mudlarking.

    1. Yes you can go mudlarking without a permit around Millennium bridge, but it must be literally eyes only - you aren't even meant to roll over stones. You must be careful not to pick anything up in or near Queenhithe which is strictly off limits to everyone ( these helpful maps on the Port of London Authority website give you all teh information you need

  4. So now that kids are at school and I don't have to drive them to a farm field trip today, I pulled out last year's finds and identified them from your pictures. I think my transferware fragment is a fence - at first I thought it was railroad tracks, but a fence makes more sense. I'd love to email you the photo - my email is my name at Hope that's okay!