Etruscan Bread Winners 1898

Etruscan Bread Winners 1898

In 1898, Harry Barnard produced a fascinating photographic record of Wedgwood workers known as 'Etruscan Bread Winners 1898'. This 27 page album contains a series of extremely high quality photographs of each of the different departments taken by Barnard during July and August of that year. He had the foresight to record the names of the individuals underneath each picture.

The photographs reveal that most men wore caps; that manual workers typically had collarless shirts and waistcoats; shirts and ties were worn by the decorators, gilders and throwers and turners; and suits by the warehousemen and office staff. The photographs emphasise the social hierarchy among employees. In all probability a wash and brush-up and a change of clothes took place prior to being photographed.

Harry Barnard himself appears in this photograph of the 'Oddest Men' (wearing the fez) as do Francis Wedgwood and Thomas Allen - one of the greatest ceramic artists of the 19th century. Allen studied at Somerset House and South Kensington. On returning to Stoke-on-Trent, he was employed by the Minton factory then joined Wedgwood around late 1875 or early 1876. He had a considerable reputation as a figure painter and an immense amount of knowledge concerning the tile industry. Under Allen's influence the output and range of studio and art wares grew greatly, and he was particularly renowned for his production of new tableware designs.