Tell Martha, Jasperware is the new Jadeite. Once dismissed as an over-collected cabinet crowder, I'm now seeing the dark blue, matte-finished pottery with fresh eyes. This coloured stoneware was developed by Josiah Wedgwood (who, as an aside, was Darwin's Grandfather) during his quest to reproduce the Portland Vase (a glass artifact from the 1st century BC). He produced his first satisfactory copy of this ancient vessel in 1789.
It was our visit to the potter Harlan House's studio last August that sparked my interest in the delicate relief sculpts that decorate Jasperware. Harlan spoke with former employees of the Wedgwood factory to uncover certain secrets; the sculpts actually begin much larger and are shrunk during firing (12-15%) and are then cast and fired again. The process repeats until the desired size is reached.
I've been on the hunt for my own piece of Jasperware and it seems that there is still a market as prices remain steep. I found this teapot at the Aberfoyle Antiques Market for only $15. With a small chip in the spout and a mended lid as the only flaws, this piece from before 1891 is quite the treasure. The tobacco canister (found at Christie Antiques Show for $10) was made between 1929-1970. Although it has its own charm, the deep blue of the teapot remains superior. I am resolved to stop at 3 pieces and so have a little hunting left to do.