Contact us today +44 (0)1782 638100

How One Man’s Passion for Birds Led to a Special Wedgwood Pottery Collection

Debbie Porter

Every once in a while, an item or collection is brought in that has a fascinating provenance attached – and the collection featured in this article is no exception. But you’d be forgiven for asking what birds have to do with Wedgwood pottery.

The story revolves around a person named Joe Johnston, who was a keen bird fancier. In particular, Joe bred, showed and judged Border Fancy canaries in the years prior to World War Two. His efforts would garner recognition too, with him winning awards at the various shows he attended. The prizes, awarded by Capern’s Bird Food of Bristol, were specially produced pieces by Wedgwood.

A lilac Wedgwood Jasperware Dancing Hours bowl

Also within the realm of special presentation pieces: This lilac jasperware Dancing Hours bowl was presented as a retirement gift to employee Edgar Roberts, dated July 1959. This piece will be featured in our July Fine Art sale with an estimate of £200-£400.

The design of these Wedgwood presentation pieces depicts three canary breeds perched on a branch. To the left is shown the Yorkshire Fancy, with the Norwich Fancy to the right, and the Border Fancy in the centre.

The design of these Wedgwood presentation pieces depicts three canary breeds perched on a branch; a Yorkshire Fancy, a Border Fancy and a Norwich Fancy

Year on year, the collection of prizes Joe won at various shows would go on to include a teapot, water jug, sugar bowl and cream jug, cake plate, three cups and saucers and, finally, three tea plates.

Such was Joe’s passion for breeding and showing canaries, his daughter even recalls attending a show in Glasgow during the blackout!

A Wedgwood Prestige black basalt footed bowl

Another of the phenomenal Wedgwood pieces to be featured in our July Fine Art sale is this prestige black basalt footed bowl. Estimate £3,500-£5,000.

Ultimately, Joe would pass away before his collection could be completed, but what is left behind is a very special collection with a unique story. This collection, among many other Wedgwood pieces, will be featured in our upcoming July Fine Art sale.

How to Buy or Sell Wedgwood at Auction

Here at Potteries Auctions, we run regular auctions and attract buyers and sellers from all over the world. We’re based in the heart of the Staffordshire Potteries with two salerooms; the Silverdale Saleroom and the Cobridge Saleroom, so we’re best placed to offer valuations and advice. This is because our experts can assess your pottery for authenticity and market value.

If you have Wedgwood pieces or sets, we can identify and provide valuations to tell you how much it’s worth. Please get in touch with usto discuss how we can help you or request a call back if you are looking for an expert evaluation and are seeking to sell your Wedgwood or add to your collection.

Did you know we can collect your pottery from anywhere in the UK? We also offer solutions for shipping too. We can pack and safely post your goods, perfect for transporting pieces that have been bought via our online auctions.