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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Recent News: Spode China

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The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, episode 3, review: 'typically comforting fare', February 25th

The doyenne of dough was sporting a textbook Berry blazer: white with a blue palm tree print, like Spode china. The technical round was to make six mini pork pies. As Mitchell pointed out: “Who makes pork pies? That's what factories are for.” Yet...Read more

£700k investment to create art studios at former Pottery factory
Stoke Sentinel, February 25th

Up to 43 studios will be created at the Spode Factory in Stoke to help both budding and established artists. The ambitious scheme – which will focus on the Upper China Hall section of the Elenora Street site – has been made possible thanks to cash from...Read more

Charity helps youngsters cast oatcakes in clay
Stoke Sentinel, February 19th

The group of 17 young disbaled people - aged 11 to 19 - paid a visit to the world famous Spode factory yesterday as part of Caudwell Children's Half-Term Expressive Arts programme. ... She said: “Pottery and the delicious oatcake are trademarks of the...Read more

Everybody Has a Story: Childhood taste of real Swedish meatballs begins an ...
The Columbian, February 18th

Conversation ceased when my aunt served the cocker spaniel meatballs on a Spode china plate. Our family owned an outside dog known to guzzle from garbage cans. Slack-jawed, we stared as this house dog slurped up the food. Through the years, finding ...Read more

A Point of View: Can parents and non-parents ever understand each other?
BBC News, February 6th

There was a frozen moment as I looked from the director's face to that of his wife, both were suffused with anger - then the director said what I'd already known, but had crassly forgotten: "Neither of us have any children - and we don't collect china...Read more

16th Edition of the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair Ends on a High Note with ...
ArtfixDaily, February 4th

Martyn Edgell of his eponymous London gallery said that five pieces of Mochaware, circa 1800-1840, five salt-glazed pieces of China, circa 1600-1780, and two American Commemorative plates were purchased. Ian Simmonds, of Carlisle PA, “loves the...Read more

London's city's ceramics used in pottery showcase
Stoke Sentinel, January 6th

Trustees from the Spode Museum have sanctioned the loan of two pieces to London's Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum for an exhibition celebrating blue and white printed pottery. A garden seat and sunflower dish, both dating from around 1820, will stay...Read more

Dave Proudlove: Stoke-on-Trent City Council should treat Spode Works with ...
Stoke Sentinel, July 31st

The city has been synonymous with the industry for hundreds of years. The Spode China Works has played a prominent role in the pottery industry since the mid-18th Century, and the majority of the buildings still standing on the site date from the early...Read more