Jasperware is the most popular type of Wedgwood ceramics and antique pieces are highly collectible. Jasperware does not contain jasper, but has a similar hardness. While a detailed appraisal is a job for an expert, with a little information, beginners can spot antique vases, cameos, and other pieces worth collecting.
Jasperware is a type of hard white ceramic originally developed by the Wedgwood Company. The company does not glaze jasperware, but instead adds colour to the clay. Although other companies later produced similar hard ceramics, the term 'jasperware' is usually associated with Wedgwood. This company is more consistent about using maker's marks than its competitors, so, with the exception of some very old pieces, real Wedgwood says Wedgwood. There is another company called 'Wedgewood', with an e, that has similar products but little collector's value. Sellers often mix up the names by mistake, so it is important to check the maker's mark.
Age of the Piece
To count as antique, an item must be at least one hundred years old. Alterations in maker's marks and, on some pieces, a three-letter code indicate age, but dating jasperware can get complicated. Generally, if a piece says "Wedgwood" or "Wedgwood England" and not "Wedgwood Made in England," then it is probably an antique.
People value jasperware based on size, colour, condition, age, and rarity. That does not mean that all large pieces are worth more than all small ones; no one characteristic outweighs the others in all cases. However, some of the most beautiful pieces are not worth as much as a beginner might think because most popular pieces are common. Beginners should buy what they love and not worry too much about investment value, but it is worth appraising anything rare, especially pieces from before 1800.
Choosing Solid or Dip
Solid jasperware has colour throughout the clay body, while dip means the colour is only on the surface; a broken piece of dip would be white in cross-section. In both cases, the colour is part of the clay, not a glaze, so the surface has a matte finish. The earliest jasperware was solid, but Wedgwood made only dip jasperware between 1840 and 1860. Both types are valuable, but they are not exactly the same product.
The Multiple Colours of Jasperware
Many people think that all jasperware is blue and white, since this is the most common pattern, but other colours, such as green and even scarlet, do exist. All jasperware has a coloured background with white, bas-relief classical figures or floral patterns applied to the surface. Most have a single background colour or, more rarely, two. Everything else being equal, pieces with unusual colours have a higher collector's value, though buyers who do like blue jasperware should not hesitate to get it.