The Staffordshire Sentinel to day reports on the sale by auction (27th August 2010) of a Family Bible formerly owned by the Wedgwood and Wood Families of Burslem:
HISTORIANS are hoping a Bible linked to two pottery dynasties will be brought back home to Stoke-upon-Trent. A Wedgwood family Bible dating back to 1630 is going up for auction in America this month after being discovered in an attic in Maine. It is believed the Bible has been owned by two important Burslem potters – Dr Thomas Wedgwood and Enoch Wood – before ending up on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The book includes handwritten pages by Mr Wood and inscriptions relating to the Wedgwood family.
The pieces written by Mr Wood describe how he was inspired to become a potter, who he hired at his pottery business and what he paid them and detailed descriptions of some of his most prized work.
There is also a poignant 16-page tribute written by Mr Wood's son – Enoch Wood Junior – after his father's death.
The Bible is being sold by Gould Auctions, based in Smithfield, Maine, on Saturday, August 28.
Miranda Goodby….collections officer in ceramics at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, said: "The real interest from a local history point of view is that the Bible was written in by Enoch Wood. Without him, we would know a whole lot less about life in 18th century Burslem.
"He was known as the Father of the Potteries when he died and he was Stoke-on-Trent's first historian. He was proud of Burslem and Stoke-on-Trent. He really wanted people to understand the changes he had seen in his lifetime.
He would have been delighted at the thought of his Bible coming to light and there being so much interest in it."
She said Mr Wood was an avid collector of pottery and his pieces formed what is now the Potteries Museum.
He also loved to chronicle what was happening in the world and would often write notes in books and even bury time capsules to let future generations know about the past.
Ms Goodby said: "It is no surprise to me whatsoever that he had written in a Bible. He wanted to record what he had seen. He saved books and rebound them because they had belonged to people he was interested in, which is exactly what he did with this Bible."
Mr Wood bought the Bible at an auction in 1820 and had it rebound. It is thought the book was taken to America by one of Mr Wood's descendants after his death in 1840.
It is signed by Dr Thomas Wedgwood, who owned a pottery firm in Burslem and was a distant relative of Josiah Wedgwood, who went on to found the world's greatest ceramics company.
Ms Goodby said: "Enoch Wood's father apprenticed for Dr Thomas Wedgwood in the 1730s and was a very successful potter. There are about five branches of the Wedgwood family and if you go back to the 1620s, they are all from one family. "I don't think Dr Thomas Wedgwood was actually a doctor but there were so many Thomas Wedgwoods in Burslem, a lot of them had nicknames."
Burslem historian Fred Hughes said: "It is a very important piece of memorabilia. It certainly has connections with the family of Josiah Wedgwood. And without Enoch Wood, we might not have a Burslem. He was a leading law-maker as well as a great model maker.
It would be a great addition to the Enoch Wood collection, which is a valuable collection held at the Potteries Museum and at the city archive."
Mr Hughes said: "The Bible was a family treasure but there is nothing special about the book itself – it is the inscriptions which are more valuable. The inscriptions are absolutely crucial to the history of the early development of the pottery industry."
Mr Hughes said he would like to see the Bible end up in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley so it could be studied and put on public display. He said: "The city council already has a massive collection of Enoch Wood papers – that Bible would be a welcome addition to the collection."
Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's cabinet member for adult social care, sport, leisure and culture, said: "We are aware of the auction taking place and are interested in the artefact because of the historical and cultural significance it has for the city."
Alison Wedgwood whose husband Tom is a direct descendant of Josiah Wedgwood, said the Wedgwood family would love the Bible to return to Stoke-on-Trent. She said: "Its natural home is Stoke-on-Trent. It would be fascinating to see it and we would like to see it brought back to the city. I am very curious to see what it looks like and what notes are in there. It would be a shame if it was bought by a private collector in America."
Auctioneer Timothy Gould, of Gould Auctions, described the inscriptions by Enoch Wood as "remarkable and spectacular". He added: "The Bible and manuscripts have been inspected and authenticated by an internationally-known ephemera expert."
I hope it can be bought for the City, or it would be a great addition to the Wedgwood family archives at the Wedgwood Museum.
Find Dr Thomas Wedgwood and Enoch Wood in the genealogical database here:
Details of the Auction:
- Gould Auction House, Maine.