|Sorrento pattern, 1961 catalogue page|
Over the years marketing literature was added to the Spode Archive in a haphazard way - by chance and by luck. There are gaps and duplicates but material dates from the late 1800s up to 2008. Whilst curator at the Spode Museum I began to add current literature in a more formal way. From about 1996 to 2008 the catalogues, price lists and Product Information Guides (quaintly referred to as PIGs) are nearly complete. As I got to know the collection I was able to spot gaps and then look out for papers long forgotten in old offices and storerooms onsite. Also I asked staff to look out for things irrelevant to them that the museum might treasure and gradually managed to build up a more comprehensive collection of this material. Many staff were interested in the company's history and were very helpful in supplying old papers.
For the researcher marketing and sales material can be fascinating giving an insight into dates of production, fashion, prices and business practice. But its very nature can make it unreliable when looking for purely historical facts. The Spode company tended to use c1770 as the date the business was established by Josiah Spode I as this was the only way they could present the complicated early history in a succinct way - there is much more to it than a simple date. They also preferred to present the young Josiah Spode I as apprentice to one of the best potters of the mid-1700s when this was not so.
Serious researchers should always consult original documents, rather than marketing literature, to help dispel myths which have grown up over the years. A commercial company would not always have the time to do in-depth research. Spode with a historical consultant and, later, a dedicated museum was helped to get the facts straight for use in its publicity material. It is known companies can round dates up or down to create anniversaries, or even make a guess, and to gloss over or omit anything not so advantageous to the company image - all in the marketing cause!
Although there is a sort of consistency in getting dates wrong at Spode in many marketing and sales publications there were also some exceptionally good give-away booklets and brochures produced, particularly from the latter part of the 20th century when there was a desire to get things right. It often depended on attention to detail by an individual.
|Cup making with a jolley, 1975|
Intended to help market and sell Spode's product worldwide Spode Never Out of Fashion is a little book full of interesting and extremely accurate information. Its attention to detail and accuracy suggest it was researched and compiled by Robert Copeland who, as well as a partner in the firm, was Marketing and Sales Director and was able to combine his skills in this field with those of a researcher with a passion for Spode history. The booklet includes history of the company, some current patterns, manufacturing processes and even 'principal ceramic colour groups' plus a little note about marketing and distribution. The text is accurate and informative and illustrated throughout in black and white.
|Engraving, printing, & transferring, 1975|
Descriptions, flowcharts, images and graphs are all packed into this little publication. Modelling, making, decorating, engraving, printing, glazing, painting, gilding and groundlaying are some of the processes described with a particularly good series of images for the engraving, printing and transferring processes.
If you are interested in ceramic processes through the ages then the last book written by Robert Copeland is a must. Manufacturing Processes of Tableware during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries is detailed on the booklist at the top of this page.