Liz Taylor reports that auction rooms across the country are marking

the anniversary of Josiah Wedgewood

JOSIAH Wedgewood died 200 years ago and the anniversary of his death

is being marked by exhibitions and auctions across the country.

Wedgewood was a great entrepreneur who in his lifetime made English

pottery as covetable around the world as anything that came out of

China, and the techniques he developed helped found the modern

Staffordshire pottery industry.

He was born in 1730 to a family that was already active in the Burslem

potteries, but when he went to work he introduced wares of stunning

originality, many of them based on antique pots. Perhaps his best known

design was his unglazed blue Jasper ware decorated with raised designs

in white.

Success came to him quickly and in 1769 he opened a new works near

Hanley and named the site ''Etruria'', a tribute to his fascination with

classic styles. When he died in 1795, his name was famous and crowned

heads all over Europe clamoured to own pieces that bore his mark. An

example of the work he produced is the most prominent item in the

exhibition of Wedgewood currently running in the Victoria and Albert

Museum in London, (till September 17). It is called the Frog Service

because it was made to be used in Catherine's Chesmenski Palace near St

Petersburg which was built on what was once a frog marsh.

Each item in the creamware service is beautifully painted with a

different view of some picturesque place in Britain. The selection in

the museum has been lent by St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum and it has

never been out of Russia since Catherine received it.

Also on show is Wedgewood's copy of the famous Portland Vase which

took him years to perfect.

As well as the Victoria and Albert exhibition, another entitled

''Josiah Wedgewood, the Man'' is running at the Wedgewood Visitor Centre

in Barlaston, Stoke on Trent, from today till December 15. Another

entitled ''Josiah Wedgewood, the Man and His Mark'' also runs from today

till October 31 at the City Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke on


The salesrooms, too, have marked the great man's anniversary with

special sales -- on Thursday of this week Christie's in London had good

results with items like a black basalt teapot dating from 1770 and other

pieces which carried on the story of the Wedgewood production on from

the time of Josiah's death to the present day.

Yesterday, Bonhams held a Wedgewood sale which included a black basalt

Griffin candlestick which they estimated to make around #1500.

Another attraction running in London next week is the long established

and prestigious Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair which goes on in

the Great Room of Grosvenor House, Park Lane, until June 24.

More than 90 dealers from all over the world are taking part and

showing a dazzling dispaly of paintings, furniture, silver, jewellery,

textiles, ceramics, glass, watches and scientific instruments.

Among the highlights is the picture Armistice Night, Amiens which Sir

William Orpen painted to mark the end of the First World War. It is

being shown by the Pyms Gallery.

Among the furniture on Mallet's stand is a rare Queen Anne red lacquer

kneehole desk which once belonged to Sir Philip Sassoon and then to the

Marquess of Cholmondeley. Pelham Galleries are showing a harpsichord

what was formerly in the collection of Rudolph Nureyev.

Prominent among the porcelain are 24 Sevres dessert plates and two

bowls which Louis XV111 ordered in 1823 as a gift for Vicomte de

Chateaurbriand -- he who gave his name to the vast steaks which were

served up by his chef Montmireil.

The fair is open every weekday from 11am and 6pm. Admission costs #12

but that also entitles you to a handbook.


NOW an item that will interest would-be treasure hunters. Spink and

Son, the coin dealers of King Street, St James, are offering for sale on

July 4 the largest hoard of Civil War coins ever discovered.

They were found by a metal detector enthusiast called William Caygill

in 1993 in a field at Middleham in North Yorkshire. He first found a pot

filled with silver coins and then subsequently, within three days,

another two pots full of coins. Altogether there were 5098 silver coins

-- halfcrowns, shillings and sixpences -- dating from the reigns of

Edward V1, Philip and Mary, Elizabeth 1, James 1 and Charles 1. The pots

had been buried around 1647.

What is interesting is that the find was declared to be Treasure Trove

and it was lucky for Mr Caygill that he found them in England and not in


By English law, Treasure Trove, the owner of which cannot be located,

is divided between the finder and the owner of the land, after the Crown

has taken what items it particularly wants from the hoard. In this case

5000 coins were left to go into Spink's where they are expected to sell

for around #70,000.

In Scotland however, everything in a Treasure Trove reverts to the

Crown, even if it is of little value. Because of the increased use of

metal detectors, the archaeological lobby in England is trying to have

the rules of Treasure Trove adapted to coincide with the law in

Scotland. There are pitfalls in the Scottish law however because, if

rigorously interpreted, it means that even items dumped on pavements

cannot be removed without the owner's permission.