At Auction: 150 Years of Wedgwood

You may know of Wedgwood as a brand of china and tableware, but many of us grew up looking at its familiar light-blue knick knacks with white bas-relief depicting Grecian scenes with people in togas.

A group of four Wedgwood jasperware jugs. ++ Medium Etruscan jug in navy with pale blue and green. 1987. 5″ x 5″. ++ Medium Etruscan jug in white with pale blue. 5 1/4″ x 5″. ++ Medium Etruscan jug in pale blue with terra cotta and yellow. 5″ x 5″. ++ Medium Etruscan jug in pale blue with white and dark blue. 5 1/4″ x 5″.

But I’m learning just how many varieties of Jasperware the company produced since its beginnings in 1759, thanks to an upcoming auction at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church this Saturday that contains over 1,000 pieces in 414 lots. The collection comes from Adele and Alan Barnett, longtime Fairfax residents and collectors who founded the Wedgwood Society of Washington DC. They recently retired and moved to Maine, which forced them to downsize their collection from over 6,000 pieces.

“What I find fascinating is the history of the company,” Adele told me, “the variety and diversity of the wares they have made over 260 years and how long the company has survived.”

The variety, which is on display for the auction preview this week, ranges from a one-off sink made as a prop for an advertisement…

A Wedgwood jasperware sink with taps and fixtures in pale blue and white. c. 1980. 11″ x 14 1/2″ x 20 1/4″.
Estimate: 500.00 – 1,000.00 USD

… to a 19th-century pull handle for a beer tap…

A Wedgwood jasperware keg pump handle in pale blue dip and white. c. 1850. 6″ x 2 1/4″.
Estimate: 60.00 – 80.00 USD

… to dinner place-card holders…

A Wedgwood jasperware place card holder in pale blue and white. c. 1890. 2 1/2″ x 2″. Estimate: 80.00 – 120.00 USD

… to cigarette boxes and tobacco jars. These 20th-century examples are just beautiful, whether you use them for their stated purpose or not:

A Wedgwood floral art deco design cigarette box #TK641 in cream ware. 1929. 6″ x 3 1/4″ x 2 1/2″. Estimate: 40.00 – 60.00 USD


A Wedgwood lidded jar in white with art deco swirl and floral design. 20th century. 3 1/2″ x 4 3/4″. Estimate: 40.00 – 80.00 USD

The Barnetts started the DC Wedgwood society in 2000 after they moved here from Boston, where Adele was president of the local society up there. The DC group has since grown to include more than 300 members from seven countries, who meet regularly to talk about their collections, listen to lectures from academics and auctioneers, and host appraisal sessions.

The process of trying to decide what to keep and what to give up was difficult, to say the least, she told me. “There was lots of heartache. It was a miserable process,” she said. “It was all I could do not to cry.”

But for die-hard fans, it’s a golden opportunity. Here are some of my own favorites. They include the deep-blue 19th century pieces, where the white relief is nearly translucent:

Large upright Wedgwood jasperware bowl in dark blue and white. c. 1895. 4″ x 8 1/2″.
Estimate: 60.00 – 80.00 USD


Wedgwood jasperware jug with bull rush motif and pewter lid in dark blue and white. c. 1865. 8 1/2″ x 7″. Estimate: 100.00 – 200.00 USD


Large Wedgwood jasperware footed bowl in dark blue and white. c. 1860. 5″ x 8 3/4″. Estimate: 100.00 – 200.00 USD

I also love the modern pieces, sans toga:

A group of four small Wedgwood jasperware items, 20th century. ++ Small marbleized cup in Portland blue with white. 4 1/2″ x 3″. ++ Marbleized paper clip holder in Portland blue and white 2001. 2 1/2″ x 3″. ++ Marbleized posy pot in white and pale blue 2008. 4″ x 4″. ++ 400th anniversary marbleized Bermuda vase in solid blue with turquoise and white 2009. 5 3/4″ x 3 1/2″. Estimate: $150-300


A group of four Wedgwood jasperware items. ++ Marbleized footed bowl in solid navy blue. 2003. 3″ x 9″. ++ Covered oval Interiors pot in midnight blue solid. 1999. 8″ x 7″. ++ 2 fluted tumblers in midnight blue solid. 5″ x 3 1/4″. No Number: 7 1/2″ x 3 3/4″. Estimate: 50.00 – 100.00 USD


Wedgwood jasperware vase, oblong interiors, in solid midnight blue. 1999. 5 1/2″ x 7 1/2″.
Estimate: 30.00 – 60.00 USD


Large Wedgwood jasperware Library Collection footed bowl in cane yellow and black. 7 1/4″ x 12 1/4″. Estimate: 150.00 – 250.00 USD

These cabbage plates remind me so much of Majolica, which I find to be utterly charming:

A group of eight Wedgwood creamware Cabbage leaf and Geranium plates in various colors. 20th century. 8″ d. Estimate: 40.00 – 80.00 USD

As a longtime chronicler of interior design, I go nuts every time a see intaglios elegantly framed on a wall. My imagination went straight in that direction when I saw these lots — can’t you just picture framed Wedgwood “intaglios” to give an important room character?

A group of about 80 assorted Wedgwood jasperware cameos in various colors. 20th century. 16 1/2″ x 12 1/4″ x 1″ (box). Estimate: 150.00 – 200.00 USD


A group of about 100 assorted Wedgwood jasperware cameos in various colors. 18th-20th century. 16 1/2″ x 12 1/4″ x 1″ (box). Estimate: 200.00 – 300.00 USD

The collection is still open for preview this Friday from 10 am – 5 pm. The auction is Saturday, April 14, at 11 am, and the galleries will open for a final preview at 9 am that morning.

Here’s a final look at all it has to offer. And if you want to know more about the lovely Adele and Alan Barnett, here’s a good summary of their collecting, which began in 1969.


  1. Lovely to see so many rare pieces of Wedgwood Jasperware all in one place. Thoroughly enjoyable!

  2. Patti Meg says:

    While Wedgwood did indeed produce intaglios, the collections here are cameos. And yes, they do look fabulous framed.

  3. Hi Jennifer!
    Thanks for posting about this auction. I would never have known about this collection otherwise. I was an avid jasperware collector until I ran out of room, but I might have to change my plans for tomorrow and check out the Barnett collection.