2017-06-15 / Arts & Entertainment News

‘The poor man’s Wedgwood’ is tantalizing all the same


Ruth Coons always comported herself with an air of refinement.

She and her husband, Ernie, had downsized to Fort Myers from New Hampshire clearly were a little more to the manner born than the rest of us.

They walked a miniature poodle named Simone-Simone (nicknamed Simi) and had a décor that was accented with antiques.

Mrs. Coons had made a concession to Florida, though, buying a good-quality white dining set and filling the hutch with Wedgwood Jasperware.

Oh, it was gorgeous, and I remember Grandma telling us that it was important enough Mrs. Coons carried a special insurance rider on the collection of English pottery.

Back then, Wedgwood’s blue and white Jasperware was ubiquitous. You’d see it everywhere from department stores to jewelry stores, along with a few spots in between.

Jasperware, created by Josiah Wedgwood in the 1760s was inspired by the Roman cameo-glass Portland vase, which now resides in The British Museum.

This Dudson milk pitcher may remind you of Wedgwood’s Jasperware. It was made in the second half of the 19th century. 
SCOTT SIMMONS/FLORIDA WEEKLY This Dudson milk pitcher may remind you of Wedgwood’s Jasperware. It was made in the second half of the 19th century. SCOTT SIMMONS/FLORIDA WEEKLY Much of the ware, usually seen with a white design atop a blue background, bears a classical motif. It would have appealed to an audience fascinated by architectural digs at Pompeii and elsewhere across Europe.

The ware was popular enough that other companies wanted to get in on the act, and you can find pieces made by other English firms, as well as German and French companies — I’ve even seen some rather sad-looking replicas that were made in Japan.

And it was pricey, at least for the time.

New pieces often started at $20 for pin dishes and ashtrays. Antiques, like Mrs. Coons’ pieces, could well have been priced in the thousands.

Curiously, new pieces still fetch in the hundreds — a single Jasperware cup and saucer set sells for $235 on Wedgwood’s website.

But the secondary market is another matter, especially in Florida.

I recently saw pin dishes priced at $2 apiece at Goodwill and passed on them. After all, I didn’t need them and, thanks to changing markets, prices for the pottery have dropped precipitously.

Part of it no doubt has to do with all the pieces that are out there on that secondary market. As with Hummels and other collectibles, everyone’s mother, grandmother or aunt owned pieces of Wedgwood.

Older, rarer pieces still command higher prices. But there just is not the demand for most of the workaday pieces many of us inherited from our parents or grandparents, and that’s too bad.

I don’t know what happened to Mrs. Coons’ collection.

She was in her late 70s when she moved from Florida to Massachusetts to be near her family more than 30 years ago.

But I’d like to think her kids and grandkids valued it as much for its shades of white and blue as well as for whatever monetary value it may have had. ¦


Dudson Pottery Jasperware pitcher

Where: Palm Beach Pawn King, 758 Northlake Blvd., North Palm Beach; 561- 842-0107

Paid: $45

The Skinny: I was intrigued by the design that rings the salt-glazed bottom of this Jasperware milk jug. At first blush, it would appear to be a piece of Wedgwood.

But that company’s wares typically are a solid color with the white relief design applied to the outside.

On the bottom, the piece simply is marked “Milan.”

Online sources say the piece was made by the Dudson Co., of Hanley, Stoke-on- Trent, home to many of the great English potteries. The mark suggests the piece dates from the mid-19th century, before U.S. and other laws required wares from other nations to bear the country of origin.

Some sources refer to Dudson as “the poor man’s Wedgwood.” Perhaps it’s not as fine as Wedgwood. But that does not matter. After all, the pitcher is attractive, with a distinctive shape and color.

Equally fun: Dudson still is in business; in 1891, the company shifted its focus to restaurant ware. ¦

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