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Bulb pot and cover

Bulb pot and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Etruria (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black Basalt, with 'encaustic' decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 3 []

Object Type
These bulb pots were variously called 'bulbous root pots' and 'root flower pots' in the Wedgwood documents. They were used for growing spring bulbs indoors, the detatchable collared cups being for hyacinths. In November 1767 Josiah Wedgwood sent his partner Thomas Bentley several 'Root Flower Pots'. Bentley was uncertain about their use, evidently confusing some with punchbowls. This prompted Wedgwood to write: 'Your Punch bowl is a Winter Flowerpot, not to be fill'd with water & branches of flowers, but with sand, & bulbous roots.'

Materials & Making
The bulb pot is made of Black Basalt, one of several types of pottery Wedgwood developed or perfected in order to respond to changes in taste. Wedgwood called the type of painting on this piece 'encaustic'. This term was originally used for an ancient Greek and Roman technique of painting in which pigments are combined with hot wax. Wedgwood's encaustic decoration was painted in a mixture of enamel pigments and slip (a mixture of clay and water), and then fired onto the surface. Unlike Jasper (his greatest invention), Wedgwood patented his encaustic painting technique. However, the patent gave him little protection and the technique was immediately taken up by other potters.

Place of Origin

Etruria (made)


ca. 1790 (made)


Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Black Basalt, with 'encaustic' decoration


Height: 13.6 cm, Width: 21.4 cm, Diameter: 8.5 cm

Object history note

Made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

Crocus pot and cover, made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire, 1790

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Wedgwood introduced a number of types of stoneware between 1765 and 1775. The Black Basalt of this crocus pot is decorated with the 'encaustic' process that he patented in 1769. It was inspired by Greek red-figure pottery and used a combination of enamel and clay slip. [27/03/2003]
Bulb pot
Made at the factory of Josiah Wedgwood, Etruria, Staffordshire, about 1790
Marks: 'WEDGWOOD', and 'K', impressed
Black Basalt with applied reliefs and painted 'encaustic' decoration


The relief of cupids carrying a garland is adapted from a Classical Roman motif, one that was revived during the Renaissance [23/05/2008]

Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Vases; Containers; Stoneware


Ceramics Collection

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