Josiah Spode founded his Spode pottery around 1770 at Stroke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. Even before Spode arrived, this area was well known as “The Potteries,” one of Britain’s most important districts for the production of porcelain.
In 1785, Spode began producing its line of blue-on-pearl china, which was to become its first success thanks to the skill of designer Thomas Minton in the early 1790s. Spode’s pieces were distinctive for the depth and richness of their blue color—the pottery refined its own cobalt to achieve the effect. This blue-and-white china remained one of Spode’s most distinctive products for decades to come, though Spode also produced a variety of unglazed lines, including basalts, redwares, and canewares.
When Josiah Spode passed away, his son, Josiah Spode II, took over the business in 1797. Spode II continued the research his father had begun into bone-ash porcelain. Potteries had experimented with adding burnt animal bone to their porcelain for a few decades, but Spode II perfected the proportions of this mix between 1797 and 1798.
A mix of between 33 and 50 percent burnt animal bone, plus equal amounts of feldspar and quartz, yielded porcelain that was extremely white, strong, cheap to produce, and translucent. This bone-ash, or soft-paste, porcelain soon spread to other British potteries, giving England the boost it needed to stay competitive in the international market. By 1820, Spode’s approach to porcelain became the standard formula for bone china. Spode’s porcelain pieces often featured elaborate painted decorations, sometimes with exotic or foreign characters in novel scenes.
With the popularity of its bone-ash porcelain, Spode became the most successful Staffordshire pottery from 1800 to 1833. Its pieces had few flaws compared to the products of other companies—its glaze did not craze, its colors did not flake. Spode produced a wide variety of lines, including tea wares, dinner wares, and dessert wares, alongside incense burners, pen trays, cabinet pieces, and more. Master decorator Henry Daniel fostered high-quality designs on Spode’s polychromatic and gilded pieces, and C. F. Hürten painted many exquisite vases.
Each Spode piece was marked with the family name alongside a pattern number in red. This pattern number started at 1 in 1800—by 1833, it had reached 5000. Pattern #1166 is particularly noteworthy for its elaborate decoration. Other noteworthy pattern lines included Willow, which was first developed by Josiah Spode I around 1790; Tower; Camilla; and London, which was copied by many other makers between 1815 and 1825. Spode also produced imitation Chinese wares. Before 1805, these pieces featured a “Spode Stone China” mark alongside a fake Chinese seal.
In 1833, William Taylor Copeland took the reins at Spode after Josiah Spode III died, and he renamed the company Copeland and Garrett. In 1847, Copeland and Garrett became W. T. ...
These small-scale figures were inspired by (and sometimes simply replicated) classical sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome, and they were finished to resemble marble. These affordable pieces allowed the general public to bring fine classical art into their homes. Copeland displayed these figures at the 1851 London Great Exhibition, where they were extremely successful and popular. Alongside the Parian figures, Copeland continued to produce fine bone china and earthenware.
Copeland’s production facilities remained at Spode’s original Staffordshire location. In 1970, the company’s name changed back to Spode Ltd., which became Royal Worcester Spode Ltd. in 1976. Royal Worcester Spode experienced severe financial difficulties in the 2000s and was purchased by Portmeirion in April 2009. Portmeirion has continued to use the Royal Worcester Spode name in its product line.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
The Bowes Museum: Ceramics
Ceramics at The V&A
Clubs & Associations
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Spode China
Source: Google News
Estate Sale Roundup: April 24-27: Grab a tape measure and your pocketbook ...Austin Chronicle, April 24th
books; art, Frankoma; pottery, trunks, and boots. ... a 5 x 8 pastel wool rug; antique white wicker sofa, loveseat, and chair with floral cushions, white wicker rocker, antique child's wicker rocker; oak cabinet, Henry Link dresser with mirror, hand...Read more
Danie Mellor: Exotic Lies Sacred TiesAboriginal Art Directory News, April 24th
“His visual narrative relies on manipulating British imagery from the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically iconography borrowed from blue and white Spode china, which he layers with his own record of the cultural differences between Indigenous and ...Read more
How to avoid an estate battle after you dieConsumerReports.org, April 23rd
So if you want your china or woodworking tools to go to a particular child, it's best to put it in writing. Many states let you attach a codicil to your will indicating that you've made a separate list distributing your ... A woman in New York...Read more
Vivien Leigh's Sussex retreat for saleTelegraph.co.uk, April 19th
“Her stamp was everywhere: in her utterly feminine blue bedroom and dressing room; her beautifully appointed drawing room with silver-framed photographs of friends; her collection of snuffboxes and Staffordshire and Spode china. But it was in the...Read more
Back In The Day: Guess the year from these Plymouth cluesPlymouth Herald, April 14th
The auction was held by the National Trust to offset the running costs and renovations of Saltram House. The item confidently predicted to fetch the highest price was a 203-piece, early Spode china dinner service. The surprise of the day yesterday was...Read more
Former Spode employees demonstrate art of pottery paintingStoke Sentinel, April 12th
SEAU COOL: Ceramics artists and former Spode employees David Bailey and Tony Challiner have demonstrated the fine art of decorating pottery by recreating two hand-painted replicas of an ornate Victorian item. Their seau replicates the original dish ...Read more
Porcelain moving to floorsGreat Falls Tribune, April 11th
The most common usages for porcelain have always been household fine china and artistic objects such as figurines, pitchers and bowls. Porcelain originated in China by the Han Dynasty period. Glazed ceramic ware developed into porcelain. Over the...Read more
My Mother's GiftHuffington Post, April 3rd
My mother left me a lot of things -- children's books, family photos, reams of music, her heavily annotated copy of The Messiah, art, 19 years' worth of teaching supplies, linens, more linens, my great-aunt's Spode china, a love of Brubeck, a sense of...Read more