Monday, 5 January 2009

Wedgwood Loss

Another slice of British history hits the skids. Waterford Wedgwood plc, which owns the historic brand names Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Waterford Crystal, has called in the receivers (title link). Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) set up his pottery firm 250 years ago. Although he served as an apprentice potter under his brother, childhood smallpox had damaged his right knee and eventually the leg needed to be amputated. Unable to use a potter's wheel, he turned to design, experiments, innovation and industrialization. His Jasperware copy of the Portland vase is a landmark in English pottery (above). He was also a leading abolitionist, promoting the case against slavery with mass-produced cameos showing the seal for the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade: "Am I not a man and a brother" (above). To cap it all, he was the grandfather of Charles Darwin, whose musings on the origins of species wouldn't have been possible without the financial security afforded by the wealthy Wedgwood and Darwin families. The world owes Wedgwood a lot more than it realizes! (CLICK to visit the Wedgwood Museum.)

6 Comments:

At 5/1/09, Blogger Ian Brown said...

Darwin was a trustfund kid? Aw hell no! I just lost so much respect for him.

 
At 5/1/09, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

I know what you mean. We like to think of great scientists as persons of the people (I'm trying hard not to be sexist here), but having the time to think costs money. There weren't any research grants in those days.

There's a long tradition in English toff society of C of E vicars being our ealiest scientific thinkers. The oldest son inherited the family estate, the next went into the army and the third son joined the Church. All he had to do was trot out a sermon on Sunday, so he spent the rest of the week watching wasps or counting caterpillars!

You've got to admit Darwin beats Barbara Hutton and Paris Hilton for leading a useful life.

 
At 5/1/09, Blogger JafaBrit's Art said...

That is sooooo sad :(

Yep Ian, most of those early pioneers in sciences, geology, archeology etc were trust fund babies. I agree with Coxsoft, they certainly led much more useful lives than the Paris Hiltons of this world.

 
At 5/1/09, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Wow! That was fast!

Thanks, JafaBrit. Glad you agree.

 
At 5/1/09, Blogger Ian Brown said...

Haha yeah, I'll take a Darwin over a Hilton any day.

 
At 5/1/09, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Very sensible.

 

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