Josiah Wedgwood, F.R.S., His Personal History

by Samuel Smiles

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Josiah Wedgwood was a celebrated entrepreneur and abolitionist. Born in England in 1730, even as a young child he showed great skill as a potter. He worked in his family business, which focused on lower quality pottery. However, Wedgewood apprenticed with Thomas Whieldon, and later worked with chemist, Joseph Priestley, to gain a much better understanding of both physical skill and manipulation of materials. Wedgewood also benefited from his marriage to Sarah Wedgwood, and her very wealthy family, which gave him the monetary requirements for starting a large pottery manufacturing business.

The Wedgwood Company specialized in creamware, a cheaper but lovely alternative to porcelain. He also developed other pottery innovations, such as green glazes, and jasperware. In order to build his business, he focused on new types of marketing, such as direct mail, free delivery, and buy one get one free sales, since his pottery innovations were often copied by competitors.

Josiah Wedgwood was an abolitionist, and created a seal for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. This medallion was reproduced countless times and distributed widely. The cameo, featuring an African male in chains with, “Am I not a man and a brother?” was found everywhere, from jewelry to hanging in professional offices, across the Americas.

This edition is dedicated to Professor India R. D’Avignon, able creator and lover of beauty.