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Lifestyle

February 24, 2013

Valuing 'Wedgwood' plates is tricky

Dear Helaine and Joe:

I am enclosing photos of two plates that I received from my grandmother’s estate. Each plate is about 10 inches in diameter. Both pieces are marked “Wedgwood & Co. Ltd,” “Made in England” and “Countryside.” One, however, carries the number “9 81,” while the other has “12 61.” There is also a notation that Wedgwood was founded in 1835. Can you date these plates and tell me what the value might be?

With Gratitude,

J.D., Hanover Park, Ill.

Dear J.D.:

The plates have very confusing and somewhat tricky marks. The designation might lead some people to assume that the maker of these two plates was the famous Josiah Wedgwood company of Burslem (and later Barlaston), England. But this would be 100 percent incorrect.

The more celebrated (and important) Josiah Wedgwood company was founded in 1759 and was justly famed for its Basalt (black ware), Jasper (often — but not always — blue with raised white decoration), Parian (white ware that is said to resemble Parian marble) and Queensware (cream-colored ware), among other products.

When the name “Wedgwood” is mentioned, Josiah Wedgwood (notice the absence of a second “e” in the last name) is the company that immediately springs to mind. There were, however, companies that had similar designations. These would include “Ralph Wedgwood” (1766-1837), whose early mark — and impressed “Wedgwood” — closely resembles that of Josiah Wedgwood. But the quality of the product does not.

Our only advice is to watch out for marks that add “& Company” to the name of Wedgwood (Josiah and his descendents never did) or spell “Wedgwood” as “Wedgewood.” The firm that made the pieces in today’s question is Wedgwood and Company, which worked at the Unicorn and Pinnox works in Tunstall, Staffordshire, England.

Wedgwood and Company was actually in business from 1860 to 1965.

The important thing is that J.D.’s plates are not by the famous Wedgwood factory, but by another company with a similar name that is much less storied and desired by collectors.

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