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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Way We Were: Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP), Carlton Ware in Stoke ...Stoke Sentinel, October 18th
MADAM, – These photographs show some of the first young people who took part in the Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) in the pottery industry. The pictures were taken in 1979 at the Carlton Ware Ltd factory in Stoke. It would be interesting if they...Read more
WEEKEND WALK: Rashleigh Inn and PolkerrisWestern Morning News, October 17th
You can still see the huge china-clay drying sheds around the harbour area at Par, but the sea no longer turns white as it used to when I was a boy. I remember my parents doing a u-turn at ... and myself were not about to argue. So off to Polkerris for...Read more
Ann King: Stoke-on-Trent needs large-scale thinking on conference centresStoke Sentinel, October 16th
Somewhere like the former Spode site in Stoke perhaps? I know the china halls are used for the British Ceramics Biennial and currently the Spode Works visitor centre is open for the 2014 season. Meanwhile the 10-acre site is currently being marketed...Read more
The 18th Dish Camp at Eastfield VillageMaine Antique Digest, October 13th
It's always a fascinating mix. Robert Copeland (1925-2010) delivered two lectures one year. Members of his family were the owners of the Spode pot works in Stoke-on-Trent during much of the 19th century and into the 20th century. ... Early on, he tried...Read more
Granite's other form – china clay – led to Cornwall's biggest industryCornishman, October 8th
Soon after this potters from Stoke-on-Trent – Wedgewood, Spode, and Minton – mined china clay in Cornwall following legal battles over patents and rights; but the exploitation of this mineral was taken up in the early 1800s by local entrepreneurs such...Read more
Stoke's Spode Works Visitor Centre hosts writer Roz Goddard for 'pots and ...Stoke Sentinel, October 8th
POEMS & POTTERY: Poet and short fiction writer Roz Goddard helped pottery lovers to pen their own poems. The writer, pictured, took part in a pottery workshop help at Spode Works Visitor Centre, and hosted by Spode and Stoke-on-Trent Libraries...Read more
The Seasoned Collector: Boutique supports children's hospital; glass pumpkin ...San Jose Mercury News, September 30th
At the 42nd annual go-around, you'll find porcelains by makers such as Wedgwood, Lenox and Spode. Expect to ... Vendors come from far and near to offer vintage clothing, furniture, jewelry, paintings, china, books, silver, clocks, toys, holiday items...Read more
Historical Society hosts 'The Delicate Art of Porcelain'Moore American, September 9th
Most of the famous names in the world of China are represented in the exhibition at the Moore-Lindsay Historical House, including Miessen, Spode, Limoges, Wedgewood, Grindley & Company, Blue Willow Ware and Royal Daulton. “The original ...Read more