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Slave medallions, 1787: In the 1780s, Josiah Wedgwood, an anti-slavery activist, produced medallions advocating its abolition, made and distributed at his own expense. ’, they were tremendously popular In a story that sums up the woeful tale of British manufacturing over the past half-century, Stoke’s Wedgwood Collection — the best collection of pottery in the country — will be divided up and flogged off, unless a £15.75 million rescue plan can save it for the nation.

The Apotheosis of Homer Vase, 1786: (left) Depicts the Greek poet being summoned to heaven — an ‘apotheosis’ — because of his brilliance, as he strums his lyre.

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Wedgwood didn’t invent this type of tableware, but he did refine and develop it, by introducing Cornish clay and stone to provide a paler pottery with a more sophisticated glaze But all this is at risk, thanks to a series of disastrous business decisions.Black basalt rabbit, 1911 This astonishingly modern looking rabbit,with yellowglass eyes,shows just how Wedgwood moved with the times into the 20th Century, with designs showing more wit and becoming less ornate Profits collapsed and, in 2009, Waterford Wedgwood went into administration.The remnants of the business were taken over by a private equity firm, KPS Capital.The symbols were purely decorative, however, because their meaning wasn’t discovered until 1822But Wedgwood wasn’t just responsible for beautiful designs, he was a social progressive, too.One of his most famous pieces was a medallion of a chained black slave under the words: ‘Am I not a man and a brother?

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