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.
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Treasures In Your Attic: Copeland pitcher may appeal to modern tastesLompoc Record, April 20th
Books are often the answer, and in this case, we suggest Geoffrey Godden's Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks -- a wonderful book available in many public libraries around the country. A quick check under the name "Copeland" in this...Read more
How to throw a Derby breakfast in high styleThe Courier-Journal, April 20th
For the serious business of a proper "Kentucky Derby Breakfast," Flexner sternly advised "the party is a very formal one, the service Georgian, the china Spode ..." As the Derby approaches, you can be sure that native Louisville hosts and hostesses are ...Read more
Stoke-on-Trent councillors to be updated on Spode plansStoke Sentinel, April 15th
COMMITTEE members will be given an update on £19 million plans to breathe new life into a former pottery factory. Stoke-on-Trent City Council unveiled its latest vision for the Spode site in Stoke – involving artists' studios, workshop and student...Read more
Treasures: Copeland pitcher may appeal to modern tastesBelleville News Democrat, April 13th
Books are often the answer, and in this case, we suggest Geoffrey Godden's Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks - a wonderful book available in many public libraries around the country. A quick check under the name "Copeland" in this...Read more
Stop! You've been pouring milk all wrongTelegraph.co.uk, April 11th
a song – I'll forgo the dance) it does seem a shame that all those lovely ceramic vessels that can be picked up in flea markets (courtesy of Coalport and Spode) and china shops (courtesy of Emma Bridgewater) are almost always used only to display...Read more
Council pay £1.3m to maintain former Spode siteStoke Sentinel, April 8th
COUNCIL leaders have been accused of paying the price for not bringing an historic pottery factory back into use – after spending £1.32 million maintaining the site. Campaigners have urged the authority to make its dream for the Spode factory a...Read more
Everyday Cheapskate: Protect precious chinaTwinCities.com-Pioneer Press, March 28th
Dear Mary: Twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to receive a five-piece, service for 12, Spode Christmas Tree China (green band) from my mother. Since then, I have filled out the set with many accessory pieces. When washing the china in the dishwasher, ...Read more
Everyday Cheapskate: Fine china, dishwasher don't mixHerald & Review, March 26th
Dear Mary: Twenty years ago I was lucky enough to receive a five-piece, service for 12, Spode Christmas Tree China (green band) from my mother. Since then, I have filled out the set with many accessory pieces. When washing the china in the dishwasher I ...Read more