'A Quota of Beautiful Works'

THE WEDGWOOD COMPANY AND 1851

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The Great Exhibition of 1851 provided a significant stimulus to the Wedgwood Company, which was beginning to recover from a period of financial difficulty and the loss of its pre-eminent position due to a lack of investment and new product development.

After  some years of family disinterest and poor management, the Etruria estate – including the factory and Etruria Hall – were put up for sale in 1844. A year earlier, in August 1843, Frank Wedgwood (1800 -1880), had taken John Boyle into partnership, the first non-family member to be a partner. Boyle was an experienced potter, having previously been a partner at Minton. The real reason for the proposed factory sale is not clear, but it was possibly forced by Boyle’s ill health and Frank’s lack of commitment to ceramic manufacture.

With Boyle’s death in 1845, Frank Wedgwood found himself responsible for repaying £15,280, which was Boyle’s share of the partnership. One of the executors of the will was Robert Brown, a manufacturer of china and earthenware in Shelton, who signed a bond on 22 July 1846 providing personal security for the outstanding money. In return, Frank Wedgwood offered Brown a partnership with a two-fifths share for the first four years and afterwards an equal share.

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