Josiah Wedgwood

Potter and Entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood

Profession: Potter and Entrepreneur


Biography: Josiah Wedgwood was born into a family of potters, but in an awful irony couldn't work a potters' wheel himself after a bout with smallpox left one of his legs badly damaged. After his brother refused to make him a partner he set out on his own and established his own pottery in Stoke-on-Trent in 1769.

As he wasn't a potter, Wedgwood was able to focus on design. He researched and introduced many new innovative types of pottery including his creamware, black basaltes, and jasperware, the later in new colors including his company's signature blue known to the world today as 'wedgwood blue'.

Wedgwood supported the abolition of slavery and in 1787 his firm designed a famous medallion depicting a bound black slave that was mass-produced and donated to the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Wedgwood was also famous for his sales and marketing, using such familiar modern day techniques as money-back guarantees, illustrated catalogues, buy one get one free, and celebrity endorsements, selling to Queen Charlotte and Catherine the Great. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1783 and died in 1795. He is also the grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin.

Born: July 12, 1730
Birthplace: Burslem, Staffordshire, England
Star Sign: Cancer

Died: January 3, 1795 (aged 64)
Cause of Death: Suspected cause is cancer of the jaw

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Historical Events

  • 1775-01-01 English potter Josiah Wedgwood writes that he has developed his famous 'wedgwood blue' color in a letter to Thomas Bentley

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