Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Friends of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery have raised the £482,500 necessary to buy the vase and prevent it from leaving the UK.
The black basaltes encaustic-decorated First Day’s vase had been on loan to the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery for 35 years until it was withdrawn by its owner and sold at Christie’s Exceptional Sale in London in July 2016.
The vase, which sold for a premium-inclusive £482,500, is one of only four vases known to have been made by Josiah Wedgwood on the opening day of his factory in Staffordshire.
Following the Christie’s auction the new owner applied for an export licence but the government issued a temporary export bar, giving UK buyers the chance to purchase it and keep it in the UK.
Ian Lawley, chairman of Friends of the Museum, said: “The support of major funding bodies such as the National Heritage Memorial Fund has been crucial in meeting our target and reflects the historical importance of this iconic vase. But we would also like to thank the hundreds of individual donors who have contributed to the appeal.”
“Their generosity has been extraordinary and shows just how much people value their cultural heritage. We would never have been able to save the vase from leaving the UK without the public’s support.”
A fundingraising appeal was launched late last year and donations were received from the public, local businesses, the Art Fund and the Arts Council/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The National Heritage Memorial Fund issued a grant of up to £267,500 in order to make up the shortfall.
The fundraising target was reached during the week of the 248th anniversary of the vase being made by Wedgwood’s own hands on the opening day of his factory at Etruria on June 13, 1769.
Since then, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been in discussions with the buyer to purchase the vase. The offer has now been accepted and arrangements are being made for its return.