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Pestle and mortar - 1779-1780

Pestle and mortar, © Wedgwood Museum
    Pestle and mortar
    © Wedgwood Museum

Wedgwood manufactured large quantities of ceramic apparatus for general sale, as well as supplying (without charge) items required by persons engaged in chemical research.

Wedgwood manufactured large quantities of ceramic apparatus for general sale, as well as supplying (without charge) items required by persons engaged in chemical research. The hard vitreous mortar stoneware body was introduced by Wedgwood in 1779 and a Wedgwood and Bentley advertising leaflet (ms: E47-29259) sets out the various properties of this ceramic body including hardness and resistance to wear, imperviousness to the action of acids etc. A list of ‘Examination of plain Ware Stock Account November’ in York Street (ms: E141-28923) various ‘showrooms’ and ‘storerooms’ are listed including ‘Ornamental Show Rooms’, ‘Black Showrooms’, ‘Vase Garret’ and ‘Chemical Store Room’. Certainly, chemical apparatus particularly mortars and pestles – features quite heavily in ‘Orders U’ (i.e. Useful Ware). One such order dated 14 October 1815 (for stores in London) (ms: E14-28810) lists: ’50 Mortars’ ‘100 pests ‘ of No 4, No 3, No 5, and No 7 size respectively. The Apothecaries Company on 21 October 1815 (ms: E141-28813) ordered ‘3 Mortars No 5, 6ps No 4’. Later on 13 January 1815 (ms: 140-28680) a further order requests: ‘3 doz Mortars & Pestles No M’ and ‘1 doz Mortars & Pestles No 4’. On 2 December 1824 a record of ‘Prices of Wedgwood Mortars & pestles. Sr James’ Square London.’ 'With 20 per cent Discount off to the trade, for Cash paid in London’ appears (ms: E141-28834). An interesting memo dated ‘28th Jany 1815’ (ms: 140-28686) states the following: ‘Messrs Accum & Garden. The glaze within the new Mortar, provided it does not become crazed, will be a desirable addition, & if it does not enhance the price it would be still more desirable to have some also glazed without as well as within. Please to let the mortars already ordered for Messrs Accum & Garden be glazed in this manner within and without, & 2 dozen of the same dimensions glazed within only’.

  • Type of object: Scientific equipment/pestle and mortar
  • Mark: Wedgwood
    & Bentley
    3
    [Impressed on mortar]
    3
    [Impressed on pestle]
  • Year produced: 1779-1780
  • Body: stoneware
  • Glaze: unglazed
  • Material: ceramic, wood
  • Accession number: 12248, 12248a
  • Dimensions: 133 mm (pestle length), 25 mm (pestle diameter), 105 mm (mortar width), 100 mm (mortar width), 48 mm (mortar height), 22 mm (mortar depth)

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