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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Copeland Spode Fitzhugh Covered Soup Tureen W/ LidVintage Pink Tower Mustard Pot W/attached Plate Old Backstamp Copeland Spode Nr(6) Copeland Spode Bailey, Banks & Biddle Philadelphia Black Transferware PlatesSpode China Shanghai Gravy Boat & Detatched Underplate Floral Spring 6860791Vintage Old Mark Spode Buttercup 10 1/4" Dinner Plates 8 Ct Mint Cond.Spode Disney's Celebration Christmas Tree 9.5 X 4" Deep Bowl New In Box. 2003Spode Blue Italian Large 14.5" By 11.1" Turkey Meat Platter England C1816 MFine Old 18th/19th Chinese Oval Blue Willow Porcelain Hot Water Warming PlateCopeland Spode Covered Vegetable Dish With Attached Handles Cowslip PatternSpode China - Indian Tree 2/959 - Gravy Boat With Attached LinerSpode Indian TreeThriftchi ~ Copeland Spode England Florence Round Serving Platter 13"Spode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Domed Covered Server,cobalt, Gold, Stunning!Vintage Group Of 3 Spode Miniature Teacups & Saucers 1 Comm. Charles & DianaSpode Blue Italian Porcelain Fruit Bowl Set Of 4 Set 1 . Copeland Spode University Snell And Hitchcock Dinner Plate 1931Spode Chelsea Bird Multi-color Floral Bird Motif Serving PlatterSpode Tower Pink/red Tureen Embossed Underplate PlatterSix Piece Toilette Set, Spode Trapnell, Porcelain Vanity SetFine Old 18th/19th China Chinese Blue Willow Porcelain Hot Water Warming Plate4 Copeland Spode Cowslip Pattern Cream Soups/bouillon Bowls With Saucers EnglandSpode Archive Collection Cranberry Red Jumbo Cup And Saucer "geranium"Vintage Wt Copeland And Sons Spode Florence Pattern Tureen With LidCopeland Spode India Tree Set Of 3 Serving Pieces Early Mark StunningCopeland Spode India Tree Set Of 4 Platters Early Mark Stunning 18,17,15,13"eaSpode Archive Collection Jumbo Cup And Saucer Cranberry Red " Greek"Antique Copeland Spode Covered Sauce Bowl 'seasons' Tureen & UnderplateEnglish Spode Pitcher -the Hunt-the FindSpode "christmas Tree" England Cups & Saucers - 8 Pcs.Spode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Salad Plates (6) Cobalt, Gold, Stunning!Lot Of One (1) Spode Copeland Trade Winds Red Nautical 8" Soup BowlSpode Marlborough Sprays Square Vegetable BowlOne Blue Room Collection Parsley Spice Jar Aesops Fables 3" - Spode (england)Stunning 19th Century Spode Handpainted Porcelain Cabinet PlateSpode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Dinner Plates (6) Cobalt, Gold, Stunning!One Blue Room Collection Peppercorn Spice Jar Venetian Scenes 3" - Spode EnglandThe Spode Blue Room Collection " Greek " Large 10" Serving Bowl ~ MintSpode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Platter, Cobalt, Gold, Stunning!Spode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Cups/saucers (6) Cobalt, Gold, Stunning!Lot Of One (1) Spode Copeland Trade Winds Red Nautical 6" Bread & Butter PlateSpode,"stafford Blue Leaves" Cream Soups/saucer (6) Cobalt, Gold, Stunning!Spode Blue Room Collection "porcelain Vase" Creamer Or Small Milk PitcherRare Antique Copeland Spode Creamer Blue Jasperware Fox Hunt And Hound SceneSpode Copeland - Kent Y5449 - 3 Demitasse Cups, No SaucersSet Of Six Copeland Gainsborough Marlborough Handled Soup Bowls And Underplates Spode Blue Italian Oven To Tableware Oblong Casserole Baker 40 Oz. Spode Blue Italian Oven To Tableware Covered Casserole 40 Oz. 43-7Unused Spode Christmas Tree Salad Servers New In BoxSpode Blue Room Collection *persian Bird* Spice Jar With Lid *rare*Beautiful Vintage Set Of Two Spode Indian Tree Cups And SaucersSet Of 2 Breadplates 5.5" Vnt Copeland Spode Buttercup Old StampSpode Marlborough Sprays Salad Plate 7-3/4" [cin1437s]Spode Christmas Tree Sugar Bowl - Flawed - Made In EnglandSpode "a True Friend Is The Greatest Of All Blessings" Trinket DishSpode Copelands China Made For Davis Collamore & Co. 5th Ave N.y. Cup SaucerLot 63 - Set Of 12 Spode Copeland Northwestern University Plates 1932Spode Cup And Saucer Green Band With Gold Leaf DesignNice! Set Of 6 Spode England 'christmas Tree' 8" Salad/dessert Plates - England