WHAT: Wedgwood china made in England is widely known for cameo-like decorations on its distinctive line of Jasperware. Smart collectors know that the company, in business since the mid-1770s, also produced a variety of different lines.
One of the most distinctive Wedgwood lines is loosely known as "Fairyland." It is not one pattern, but a theme where hand-painted designs teem with woods sprites, imps, magic forests, fairies, pixies and magical creatures, all rendered in bold colors and gold. Finally, everything is covered with a transparent overglaze of metallic luster (lustre for Brits and purists) in differing colors. The effect is magical.
MORE: Really smart collectors know that the Fairyland Lustre pattern for Wedgwood was developed by a circa 1909 hire, Daisy Makeig-Jones. By the 1920s, she had expanded the line to some 101 patterns. Recently, a 13-inch "Gondola Fairy" bowl she created in the 1920s brought $2,300 in a Quinn's auction carried on www.liveauctioneers.com. Good Fairyland Lustre is not for budget buyers.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: In the early 1930s when a growing recession had Wedgwood drop lines including Fairyland Lustre, Makeig-Jones left Wedgwood. Whether she was asked to leave -- some thought she had gotten too big for her paintbrush -- or left because the line ended is still a topic of debate.
HOT TIP: Makeig-Jones was in many ways a pioneer. At a time when women had few career options, she rose in company ranks to head a division.
BOTTOM LINE: At the high end, in the most desirable Fairyland Lustre patterns and ceramic forms, auction results can hit the mid/high five figures. More common pieces in excellent condition can be had for $3,000 to $4,000 from dealers or at auction.