09 December 2019

Spode and Christmas 2019

Plate, 'Christmas Tree' pattern S2134, crimson border c1941
December is upon us and many will be thinking about Christmas.

Commercially this was a very important time for the Spode company as its most successful pattern in the 20th century was 'Christmas Tree'. In production, throughout the year, at the Spode factory in Stoke in England, this seasonal pattern was exported to the North American market in vast quantities.

Here's a fun fact: 'in the last quarter of 1999 Spode's Christmas Tree was recorded as the largest selling casual dinnerware pattern in the USA.'

So important was 'Christmas Tree' pattern for the success of the company, that I have given Christmas its own dedicated page on this blog. So, click Christmas and Spode for links to lots more about Christmas and Spode in general; a little bit of Christmas History; and more about the iconic Spode 'Christmas Tree' pattern.

Click here to find who really introduced the festive Christmas tree in England... no it wasn't Prince Albert... and more here.

Here are a few Spode patterns made for the Christmas season, in no particular order, to get you into the Christmas mood.
Plate, pattern D2035 c1860
Backstamps, pattern D2035
Plate, 'Christmas Tree' pattern S3324, green border 1991
Backstamps, note Q datemark after pattern number
Small plate, pattern D5208 c1868
Backstamps for pattern D5208


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I am grateful to Paul Hanson of Philadelphia who kindly shared images of his Christmas pieces with me.

17 November 2019

Spode Patterns in the Very Early 1800s Part 3

I thought it was time to look at some more of the gorgeous designs from Spode in the early 1800s. Here is Part 3 on this theme; the previous posts in this series (see links at the end of this post) only got us as far as 1808 but it is worth lingering awhile as there is so much more to see.
Spode pattern books in the Spode archive
Many, but not all of these patterns are recorded in the Spode pattern books which are in the Spode archive. The items shown here are mostly on bone china, if not, then this is stated in the image caption. They are also mostly handpainted and gilded. Items shown in this post are luxurious and made for Spode's main customers at the time i.e. the well-to-do. Many of these old patterns influenced Spode design right up to the first few years of the 21st century.
Coffee can, Bute shape, pattern 1242 c1809
Pattern 1242, from about 1809, is decorated in cobalt blue and gold - two of the most expensive materials used in the pottery industry. This is a coffee can, part of a large tea and coffee service. In the early 1800s tea and coffee was not usually served together so a service might include 6 teacups and 6 coffee cups or cans but only 6 saucers.
Catalogue page 1959 'Arundel Crimson'
'Arundel' 1998
In the 1930s the pattern was reintroduced under the name 'Arundel' and produced in other colours, such as crimson, as well as cobalt. It was still in production in the 1950s. Later still in 1998 another version was introduced with the addition of floral centres and cartouches, again named 'Arundel', but now decorated by lithograph. It's perhaps worth a reminder here that over 70,000 patterns are recorded in the Spode archive spanning most of the company's life. Whilst pattern names were reused for different designs the pattern numbers are unique to one design.
Teacup & saucer, Bute shape, pattern 1372 c1810
Details of pattern 1372 
Pattern 1372 of about 1810 is shown here on a teacup and saucer - again once part of a larger service. It's really pretty and is handpainted with swags of roses and leaves, feathers and squiggles and finished with beautiful gilding.

Hundreds, probably thousands, of different shapes and items were produced by Spode. It is not just tea, dinner and dessert wares made at this period but also ornamental wares such as vases in many different shapes.
Pair of 'Beaded Vase Shape Jars', pattern 1626 c1811
Pattern 1626, from about 1811, was on a shape called a 'Beaded Vase Shape Jar' - jar is an old word for vase. This shape was made in 4 different sizes. Ornamental bead patterns, here around the foot and the rim, could be added by using a roulette. The decoration is handpainted and gilded.
Pattern 1626 glimpse of black panels
The floral group on the front panel of the vase was slightly different on every vase in a set or garniture. As far as the design goes notice that white space is used to great effect in an otherwise flamboyant and complicated design. You can see a glimpse of the floral panels which feature either side of the main panel and they are on a black background providing a striking contrast.

At this period Spode was king in the production of bone china. No other manufacturer could complete with the quality of Spode's very white and beautiful new ceramic body. Spode's designs used the white of the pottery body as much as the rich colours and precious metals.
Dessert plate, earthenware, pattern 1678 c1812 
Illustration 4 Curtis Botanical Magazine 1787
Patterns were produced on earthenware too and often these were transfer printed in outline and then hand coloured. An example of this is a dessert plate in pattern 1678 of about 1812. In this pattern it is printed in black and hand coloured in green. All the botanical centres were taken from Curtis's Botanical Magazines of the late 1700s. There is a set of the magazines in the Spode archive from which I did my research for the modern version of the same magazine in 2002. My article was called 'Flora Ceramica'. Life is much easier now as the old magazines are online from the rather brilliant Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).

In a dessert service in a pattern such as this each piece would be decorated with a different botanical subject and large pieces 2 or more. The plate in pattern 1678 here features 'Cyclamen coum or Round-Leav'd Cyclamen' which is from Curtis's illustration No. 4 of 1787.
Pierced basket stand, pattern 1706 c1812
Pattern 1706 is sometimes referred to a 'Chantilly Sprigs' and is one of many Spode designs influenced by French porcelain manufacturers. It is handpainted and hand pierced. Although recorded in the pattern books as pattern 1706 of about 1812 it is a design thought to have also been used by Spode earlier than this at the end of the 1790s.

There are many different basket designs. I've included another, this time both basket and stand, so you can see what it would look like. This one is earthenware and in a transfer printed pattern called 'Lattice Scroll' from c1810. They were part of dessert services and used to hold fruit or sweetmeats. The piercing is all hand done in the clay stage.
Basket and stand in 'Lattice Scroll' c1810
Teacup & saucer, Bute shape, pattern 1823 c1813
There was something to suit all tastes and fashion in the Spode pattern books at this period. Whilst some would choose French designs, others pretty roses, botanical or ornithological subjects, in contrast the Imari style remained popular and was in and out of fashion throughout the whole of the 19th century.

Pattern 1823 of about 1813 is a typical example. Others can be found on this blog. Use the following links or search on Imari for more. Spode's pattern 967... and 1645Spode and a Hot Water Plate; Golf and Spode.

Shapes with 'embossed' (moulded) borders became popular at around this period and included designs called Wicker Embossed, Dolphin Embossed, Swag Embossed, Dresden Embossed, Spear Leaf Embossed, Butterfly Embossed, French Embossed, Wreath Embossed and, the most popular, Flower Embossed.
Dessert plate, 'Dolphin Embossed' shape pattern 1875 c1813
'Bow Handled basket', pattern 1924 c1813
Pattern 1875 is on Dolphin Embossed with entwined dolphins as the main feature of the border. The embossment was created in the moulds from which pieces were made. The pattern features white lilies of different types - waterlily, Madonna lily and lily of the valley. The handpainted white flowers on the white bone china are quite striking. The same variety of lilies are used in pattern 1924 introduced in the same year which was a pattern for teawares on Swag Embossed shape but was also used to decorate the basket for flowers shown here.
Covered Chocolate Cup & Stand, 'Swag Embossed' shape, pattern 1914 c1813
Chocolate as a drink was something for the wealthy only in the early 1800s. A luxury. Nothing like the sweetened milky chocolate with weird ingredients so popular in the 21st century but made with chocolate and water as discussed in the lovely 'All Things Georgian' blog. I still make hot chocolate, based on the Georgian method, with a good organic, pure, unsweetened additive-free cocoa powder, making a paste with cold water and then very, very gently trickling hot water into it. No sugar and no milk but disappointingly in a mug not this pretty chocolate cup cover and stand...
Sugar Box, New Oval shape, pattern 1930 c1813
To finish this further glimpse into wares for the well-to-do in the early 1800s I chose this sugar box. It is on one of my favourite early shape designs from Spode called New Oval shape. More of the same shape with a different pattern can be seen by clicking here>.

The sugar box, once part of a tea service is in pattern 1930 of about 1813. This is a pattern described by researchers as 'missing' which means there is no paper record in the Spode archive showing what it was like.

You cannot deny the sheer elegance of its shape with the sweeping lines of its lid and handles. And just look at the pattern. An all-over gilded design with accents of red and striking yellow bands. Sumptuous!

So I am still only up to 1813 but this magnificent sugar box in pattern 1930 is a stylish place to end... and this series may have to run and run.

Spode Patterns in the Very Early 1800s Part 1
Spode Patterns in the Very Early 1800s Part 2