The campaign to keep one of the rarest pieces of Wedgwood pottery in Stoke-on-Trent has been given a major fundraising boost.
The vase, which is one of the first items handmade by Josiah Wedgwood on the opening day of his Etruria factory, was sold to an overseas buyer at auction earlier this year.
The government put a temporary export ban on the item in December.
The Friends of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery group is spearheading a campaign to raise the £482,500 purchase price to keep the vase in the city, and put it back in the museum on permanent display.
A grant fund provided by Arts Council England and managed by the Victoria and Albert Museum has now awarded £60,000 towards the appeal.
It has been given in recognition of a local fundraising appeal which has already raised £12,000 in less than a month. The grant has been awarded to match local fundraising to a ratio of £5 to every £1 raised.
Chairman of the group Ian Lawley said: “The vase is a unique piece of Stoke-on-Trent’s culture and heritage and this funding is a great boost to our campaign to save it. It is an acknowledgement from a major national funding body of the importance of local fundraising.
“We are absolutely delighted, not only at the generosity of the grant, but also by all those people who have so freely made donations at collection boxes in the museum, online and by post to help to unlock this funding.
“We still have a long way to go to raise the money needed to keep Josiah’s vase in the UK and are continuing to actively raise funds locally and nationally. As a charity group, we are able to benefit from tax relief on eligible donations made to save the vase. It means that every £1 donated is worth £1.25. We are applying to a number of major local and national charities and grant-giving bodies for their support.”
The export ban is in place until 14 March, with the option that it can be extended until 14 July if a ‘serious intention to raise funds to purchase’ the vase is made. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is now writing to Culture Minister Matt Hancock to secure the extension.
The group is continuing to appeal for donations to be made at collection boxes in The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, or online.