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
Church NewsEmporia Gazette, July 31st
Sacred Heart School is holding enrollment from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the Parish Hall, 106 Cottonwood St. The school has some financial assistance through the Catholic Education Fund. Learn more by contacting principal Theresa...Read more
High on high teaThe Hindu, July 22nd
Dressed in their casual finery, they would while away the afternoons in genteel luxury, sipping the hot beverage from dainty, flower-printed Spode China and nibbling on minuscule sandwiches, scones and petit fours. Vivanta By Taj, Vazhuthacaud, brings ...Read more
Baroness Shirley Williams opens new exhibition at Spode MuseumStoke Sentinel, July 17th
"It's a lovely museum, and it's good to see the re-emergence of a more modern pottery industry in the city." Paul Wood, chairman of the Spode Museum Trust, said he was honoured Baroness Williams – who also visited the statue of her mother in The ...Read more
Who sold what, published July 11, 2015San Jose Mercury News, July 10th
18555 China Grade Rd $710,000 6-3-2015 1913 SF 3 BR Boulder Creek 95006. 121 Grove St 2 $750,000 5-29-2015 3801 SF 7 BR ..... 349 Spode Way $915,000 5-29-2015 2491 SF 4 BR San Jose 95123. 5498 Tradewinds Ww 2 $332,000 6-4-2015 903 SF ...Read more
Process allowed complex decorations to be quickly applied to tablewareOrillia Packet & Times, July 10th
One contemporary 19th-century writer noted two experienced printers could produce the same number of decorated pieces in one day as 100 china painters. The basic process was invented by Josiah Spode in the 1780s and, with only small technical ...Read more
21 romantic places to take your loved one in Surrey & HampshireGet Surrey, July 6th
What could be more quintessentially English than a selection of blended teas and homemade sandwiches, cakes and scones smeared with strawberry jam and clotted cream, all served on the finest spode china? The only choice you have to make is where to ...Read more
New £19m masterplan is THE vision for Stoke's Spode siteStoke Sentinel, March 10th
MORE than £19 million could be spent on bringing an historic pottery factory back to life. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has unveiled a new 15-year vision for the Spode site in Stoke town centre, which will involve student flats, artists' studios...Read more
£700k investment to create art studios at former Pottery factoryStoke 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