What’s It Worth? A Price Guide for Wedgwood China

A Wedgwood bone china part dinner and dessert service, circa 1812-22. Sold for $5,625 via Sotheby's (November 2014).

As one of the most iconic makers of ceramic wares, Wedgwood china has symbolized the utmost in elegance and taste over the brand’s nearly 260-year history. Today’s porcelain and china collectors are consistently drawn to the exceptional quality and sheer variety of motifs embodied in antique Wedgwood china. Wedgwood had the uncanny knack for blending timeless taste with cutting-edge style, an unrivaled combination that helped to build one of the most enduring ceramic workshops in history.

Wedgwood China and Prominent Styles

Popular Wedgwood china patterns include:

  • Queen’s Ware
  • Jasperware
  • Black Basalt
  • Majolica
  • Fairyland Lustre

The story of Wedgwood began in 1759, when Josiah Wedgwood teamed up with colleague Thomas Whieldon to launch a pottery workshop in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Work began in earnest, such that by the following decade Wedgwood had refined a new variety of earthenware that incorporated clay from Cornwall and resulted in a creamy, ivory finish. He created a tea set in the style and presented it in 1765 to the English Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was apparently so taken by the set that she granted Wedgwood permission to dub it “Queen’s Ware.” With the queen in his court, Wedgwood was already on course to become an essential figure in ceramic production.

Only a few years later, in fact, Wedgwood would conjure the revered “Frog Service” for Russia’s Empress Catherine the Great and thereby further cement his status as a master of regal services. Paired with an interest in such sophisticated styles, however, was Wedgwood’s impressive ability to respond to trends in technique and pattern that were coming to market. From the 18th-century Neoclassical flair of the “Black Basalt” and jasperware styles, to the late 19th-century vibrancy of Wedgwood Majolica wares and the subsequent 20th-century whimsy of Daisy Makeig-Jones and her spirited Fairyland Lustre pieces, Wedgwood’s designs helped to define new trends and lure new collectors at every turn.

The Wedgwood company maintained its independence until the 1980s, when changes in market trends encouraged a Waterford Glass Group to buy the Wedgwood brand. In 2009, this Wedgwood and Waterford conglomerate were merged with Royal Daulton to become WWRD Group Holdings Ltd, an entity most recently purchased in 2015 by the Finnish company Fiskars. Though the landscape for modern Wedgwood china had changed, what hadn’t was the expert craftsmanship and overall design importance held by the brand’s earlier pieces. In 2009, the same year that Wedgwood was made part of WWRD Group Holdings Ltd., a new landmark was achieved: a Wedgwood teapot made in reaction against the 1765 Stamp Act sold for $112,128. The Wedgwood legacy continues today, with some of the most collectible patterns and styles reaching record-high prices.

Below, explore some of the most in-demand styles of Wedgwood china in the market today.  

Wedgwood Queen’s Ware

So named thanks to Queen Charlotte’s purported enthusiasm for Wedgwood’s innovative earthenware, “Queen’s Ware” became a household favorite, particularly because, during its early days, it was designed not for royalty but for the mainstream market. Early Queen’s Ware pieces that survive in excellent condition today can achieve substantial prices, however the top ticket wares are those that come from a Queen’s Ware service made for an actual queen: the “Frog Service,” designed by Wedgwood for Russia’s Empress Catherine the Great in 1773 and featuring a green frog that perches within a border of delicately rendered oak leaves.

Image 1: Wedgwood Queen’s Ware “Frog Service” Platter, England, c. 1774
Skinner, Boston, Massachusetts (July 2009)
Estimate: $10,000-$15,000
Price Realized: $54,510

Image 2: A Wedgwood Queen’s Ware Part Dinner Service
Christie’s, London, United Kingdom (November 2008)
Estimate: £2,500-£3,500
Price Realized: £11,250

Image 3: Wedgwood Queen’s Ware Silenus Design Bowl
Skinner, Boston, Massachusetts (July 2005)
Estimate: $1,500-$2,500
Price Realized: $4,113

Image 4: A pair of Wedgwood biscuit and brown-tinted Queen’s Ware urn-shaped bulb-pots
Dreweatts 1759, Newbury, United Kingdom (June 2016)
Estimate: £400-£600
Price Realized: £1,736

Wedgwood Black Basalt and Rosso Antico

Perhaps as prelude to the pursuit of jasperware pieces, in 1768 Wedgwood embarked on a line of what he termed “Black Basaltes” designs aimed at emulating the motifs of the ancient world. So named for the deep, matte black surfaces these vessels achieved when the clay turned black during firing, Wedgwood was able to surpass the then popular “Egyptian black” stoneware of other companies by adding manganese to his clay mixture. Wedgwood’s Black Basalt pieces were also often accented with “Rosso Antico” motifs derived from themes taken from ancient Rome and Etruria and applied in a rich terracotta red hue.

Image 5: Pair of Wedgwood Rosso Antico and Black Basalt Egyptian Sphinxes, England, late 18th century
Skinner, Boston, Massachusetts (October 2010)
Estimate: $5,000-$7,000
Price Realized: $10,665

Image 6: Wedgwood Rosso Antico Egyptian Vase and Cover, England, early 19th century
Skinner, Boston, Massachusetts (July 2012)
Estimate: $1,500-$2,500
Price Realized: $9,000

Image 7: A Pair of Wedgwood Black Basalt Candlesticks and a Rosso Antico Pastille Burner
Christie’s, New York, New York (April 2012)
Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Price Realized: $5,250

Image 8: A Wedgwood caneware and Rosso Antico tripod urn and domed cover
Dreweatts 1759, Newbury, United Kingdom (November 2016)
Estimate: £800-£1,200
Price Realized: £1,488

Wedgwood Jasperware

On the heels of the highly successful “Frog Service,” Wedgwood debuted his jasperware in 1774 to great acclaim, and pieces in this style still captivate collectors today. Renowned for the brilliant white ceramic reliefs that seemingly rest upon rich colors muted by a matte finish, Wedgwood jasperware pieces allude to the period fascination with the Classical world. Narratives from ancient Greece and Rome play out across these pieces as if captured in an ancient cameo, the artifact from antiquity that served as Wedgwood’s initial inspiration for the style. The most iconic example from this style was the Portland Vase, created by Wedgwood in 1789, though the increasingly high prices that collectors will pay for antique Wedgwood pieces suggest that any of these Classical motifs can be compelling.

Image 9: A Pair of Large Wedgwood Green Jasperware Vases and Covers
Christie’s, London, United Kingdom (September 2011)
Estimate: £10,000-£15,000
Price Realized: £55,250

Image 10: The Lord Dacre Copy: an important Wedgwood trial ‘First Edition’ Portland vase
Bonhams, London, United Kingdom (March 2006)
Estimate: Unavailable
Price Realized: £29,090

Image 11: Pair of Jasperware Light Blue Covered Urns and Pedestals
Doyle New York, New York (September 2003)
Estimated Price: $4,000-$6,000
Price Realized: $26,290

Image 12: Pair of Wedgwood Black & White Jasperware Pegasus Vases
John Moran Auctioneers, Pasadena, California (March 2009)
Estimate: $8,000-$12,000
Price Realized: $17,250

Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

Rivaling jasperware in popularity yet wholly distinct in its styling, Wedgwood’s ‘Fairyland Lustre’ ware continues to be a collector’s favorite. The Fairyland Lustre designs were the creation of Daisy Makeig- Jones, who joined the team of artists working for Wedgwood in 1909 and rose to prominent several years later as she began to take on more design authority within the workshop. Her first pieces were released in 1915 and were almost immediately renowned for their opulent color and rich decorative motifs. This lusciousness played perfectly into the decadence and excess of the late 1910s and subsequent “roaring” 1920s but was met with disapproval following the wake of the Great Depression. As a result, Jones’ Fairyland Lustre designs were discontinued in 1931, when Jones was asked to leave Wedgwood altogether.

Image 13: Monumental Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Dragon King Vase
James D. Julia, Fairfield, Maine (June 2014)
Estimate: $40,000-$60,000
Price Realized: $74,062

Image 14: A Rare Wedgwood fairyland lustre “Ghostly Wood” malfrey pot and cover, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, circa 1920
Sotheby’s Australia, Woollahra, Australia (July 2016)
Estimate: AUD30,000-AUD50,000
Price Realized: AUD56,120

Image 15: A large Wedgwood Fairyland lustre ‘Home of the Firbolgs’ plaque, Daisy Makeig-Jones (English, 1881-1945), circa 1926
Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (May 2017)
Estimate: $5,000-$7,000
Price Realized: $19,500

Image 16: A pair of Wedgwood Fairyland lustre cylindrical vases
Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (April 2006)
Estimate: £5,000-£7,000
Price Realized: £10,000

Image 17: Two Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre ‘Malfrey Pots’
Christie’s, New York, New York (October 2004)
Estimate: $3,000-$5,000
Price Realized: $11,950


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