Wedgwood teapot showing John Wilkes holding Magna Charta


Manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood (1730–95), founder of one of the most prestigious potteries of the period, this teapot was a luxury item that was made to celebrate the radical politician and newspaper editor John Wilkes (1725–97) becoming Lord Mayor of London in 1774. Transfer-printed in black enamel by Sadler and Green at Liverpool, from an engraving by Thomas Billinge (1741–1816), the decoration on one side depicts Wilkes ‘the Patriot’, to the left of whom is Liberty, leaning on a pedestal inscribed ‘Magna Carta’. On the opposite side of the teapot is a scene of a young man approaching Liberty represented as a woman swooning into the arms of Wilkes, with a scroll inscribed ‘Magna Charta Bill of Rights’ on the ground. Similar items depicting Wilkes with Magna Carta were manufactured across the country; his reputation was bolstered by the association, and it was through such objects that Magna Carta entered the domestic sphere.

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Wedgwood earthenware teapot designed by Thomas Billinge showing John Wilkes holding Magna Charta
Thomas Billinge
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