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Shoe buckle depicting Apollo - circa 1790

Shoe buckle depicting Apollo, Photography M.Coupe, © Wedgwood Museum
    Shoe buckle depicting Apollo, Photography M.Coupe
    © Wedgwood Museum

Shoe buckle with Apollo. Solid blue jasper, white relief, mounted in cut steel c.1790

Shoe buckle with Apollo. Solid blue jasper, white relief, mounted in cut steel c.1790

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/jewellery and accessories
  • Mark: Unmarked
  • Year produced: circa 1790
  • Body: Jasper
  • Glaze: unglazed
  • Material: ceramic, steel
  • Decoration: ornamented
  • Accession number: 12156


  • Jasper


    A fine-grained stoneware body developed by Josiah Wedgwood I in the mid 1770s, and the ceramic ware most associated with the name. The most famous colour combination known today is the traditional blue and white, which is usually decorated with classical bas reliefs.

    With changes in architectural styles and the rise in popularity of neo-classical styles of interior decoration Josiah Wedgwood began a series of experiments to create a new ceramic material that would complement the new fashions. Thousands of meticulously recorded experiments were carried out to make a stoneware body that was capable of taking a mineral oxide stain throughout. The search for the jasper body absorbed much of Wedgwood's energy and time, the result being his most important contribution to ceramic history.

    The majority of the actual trials were carried out between December 1772 and December 1774, Josiah writing on the 17 March of the latter year: ‘have for some time past been reviewing my experiments, & I find such Roots, such Seeds as would open & branch out wonderfully if I could nail myself down to the cultivation of them for a year or two'.

    By January 1775 he was ‘absolute' in the production of jasper with coloured grounds. He was also in a position to advertise that he could manufacture bas reliefs, ranging from large plaques to small cameos for mounting as jewellery. The range of colours steadily increased, and by March 1776 Josiah was sending his first specimens of yellow to London. By September experiments were in hand for black jasper. Certainly by Spring of 1777 he was carrying out further experiments to perfect a surface ‘dip' to provide deeper coloured grounds for his cameos; and by the middle of December 1777, he was able to offer Bentley a choice of ‘Green - yellow - lalock [lilac] etc. to the colour of the rooms', referring to the tones favoured by their mutual acquaintance the architect Robert Adam.


  • Apollo


    One of the principal Greek gods, the son of Zeus, and twin brother of Diana. He was god of prophecy and music. He is also associated with the nine Muses, female divinities who presided over the arts and sciences.

  • Buckle


    The term given to a device made from a metal rim, with a hinged or spiked tongue for securing a strap, ribbon, etc. Such functional pieces could be transformed into a highly-fashionable ornaments by producing the rim in expensive cut-steel which could then be further enhanced by the addition of an ornamental cameo. Wedgwood buckles predominantly featured jasper cameos, although black basalt ones were also produced.