06 February 2012

Spode and Cabbage

Cup and saucer, pattern 2061, c1814 V and A collections
Plate, pattern 1698, c1812 V and A collections
Spode's pattern 2061 on the lovely Stone China body was also known as Cabbage pattern. This was perhaps a colloquial name from the workers at the Spode factory. Jam Tart and Stop and Go are 2 others but that would be another story......

Cabbage pattern was first recorded in about 1814 and made probably until the 1960s - a popular and successful pattern produced in various versions. The pattern is a copy of a Chinese porcelain design based on the so-called 'tobacco leaf' studies. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright chose a service of Cabbage pattern for use in his own home.

The Stone China body in its modern version was called Fine Stone and only discontinued in about 1993. It nearly always featured Chinese style patterns.

A much more spectacular but similar design based on a Chinese porcelain leaf pattern is pattern 1698 of about 1812 which I think is gorgeous. Perhaps it is unfair to call this a cabbage....

This Spode pattern 1698 is much, much less common - I have actually never seen a piece in the 'flesh', only in photographs and of course the record in the Spode pattern books of the period whilst working as curator at the Spode Museum.

Metal Tray, 2011
There is a neat circle of design influence here as pattern 1698 is a 19th century Spode copy of an 18th century Chinese porcelain design. In the 21st century on a visit to Bath recently I saw a place setting of the Chinese porcelain pieces in the Holburne Museum. And across the city at No. 1 Royal Crescent after a whistle-stop tour minutes before closing, I saw a modern reproduction on a tray in this pattern and made the fastest ever purchase as the lights were being dimmed!

Are there any more Spode and Cabbage connections? Well yes. In the late 19th century Spode brought out a shape called Savoy - not connected with the grand hotel in London but, you've guessed it, cabbage. Made from the late 1800s to the 1970s it was initially produced in undecorated white bone china so that the beautiful quality of Spode's china, translucent and very white, was shown at its best. A huge range of items was made and catalogues from the early 1900s show table centrepieces, sweetmeat trays, comports, cruet sets, jardinières, and teapots. By the 1930s surface patterns began to be produced on Savoy shape, often featuring roses, which were particularly successful in North America.

Savoy salad bowl, date unknown
The 20th century adaptation of Savoy shape had less cabbage detail but was still recognisable as the crinkly leaved vegetable. Less moulded detail meant that the pretty patterns could fit better - the earlier undecorated version was very detailed.

In 2003 the Savoy shape was used along with other leaf shapes from the 1800s I found in the Spode archive to develop a new design called New England. This comprised a range of different leaf shapes in plain white showing the beauty of Spode's bone china. New England comprised pieces to use as serving dishes and could be used alone or with a favourite patterned Spode service.

There is more about Savoy, Cabbage Pattern and Stone China on my Spode ABC.