The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology

SPMA joins the campaign to save the Wedgwood Collection

Monday 8 September 2014

The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology has joined the international campaign to save the Wedgwood Collection, one of the most important industrial archives in the world and a unique record of 250 years of British art, history, and archaeology.

The Collection is under threat of being separated and sold off to help meet the pension debts of the UK subsidiary of Waterford Wedgwood Plc. The Art Fund is raising the funds necessary to purchase the Collection on behalf of the nation, and gift it to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A will assign the Collection on long-term loan to the Wedgwood Museum at Barlaston, Staffordshire. The Art Fund needs to raise the remaining £2.74m of the £15.75m fundraising target by 30 November 2014 in order to prevent the Collection from being separated and sold off. The SPMA has already given a modest donation to the appeal, as have many SPMA members. The first £500,000 of donations will be match-funded by a private benefactor, but the Wedgwood Collection still needs your help, and quickly.

You can read more about SPMA's support for the appeal in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Stoke Sentinel and make your own donation to the Save the Wedgwood Collection appeal here.

Here is the text of the letter SPMA Council has sent to local and national press in the UK:

The Council of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology (SPMA), Europe’s leading international society for the archaeological study of the post-medieval period, offers its strong support for the Art Fund’s “Save the Wedgwood Collection” fundraising appeal. While there is likely broad appreciation for the collection’s artistic importance, its international importance to post-medieval archaeology may be less well known. Among post-medieval archaeology’s core areas of interest are the study of such topics as artefacts of the post-1500 modern world, globalisation and the spread of capitalism, and the industrial revolution. The Wedgwood collection is a priceless research resource for all of these issues. Wherever post-medieval archaeologists work on sites dating to the later 18th and 19th centuries, whether in Great Britain, Ireland, and Europe, or further afield in North America, South America, Africa, Australasia, or even the desert oases of the Persian Gulf, one of the most common and important artefact types we recover are the British ceramics types pioneered, produced, and inspired by Josiah Wedgwood and his successors. The loss of this important research collection would therefore have a devastating impact not just on the artistic heritage of Great Britain, but also on period research in the humanities internationally. In keeping with our goal of supporting relevant research, SPMA has made a modest donation to the campaign in the welcome knowledge that the first £500,000 of donations will be matched. Individual Council members have also made donations, and we hope that readers of this letter will likewise lend their support to this important cause.

Dr David Caldwell, FSA, FSA Scot.; SPMA President

And SPMA Council Members:

Nick Brannon; SPMA Vice-President

Dr Alasdair Brooks; Independent Researcher, Dubai

Stuart Campbell; National Museums Scotland

Dr Vicky Crewe; University of Cardiff

Emma Dwyer; University of Leicester

Dr Kate Giles, University of York

Prof Audrey Horning, FSA; Queen’s University, Belfast

Nigel Jeffries; Museum of London Archaeology

Brian Kerr, FSA, FSA Scot.; English Heritage

Dr Chris King; University of Nottingham

Dr Laura McAtackney; University College, Dublin

Kerry Massheder-Rigby; University of Liverpool

Dr Sarah May; Heritage for Transformation

Dr Natascha Mehler; University of Vienna

Dr Hilary Orange; University College London

Jacqui Pearce, FSA; Museum of London Archaeology

Dr Beverly Straube; Jamestown Rediscovery, Virginia

Dr Hugh Willmott, FSA; University of Sheffield