22 November 2010

Recommended Reading 2 - 'Spode...' by Leonard Whiter

Front cover
'Spode: A History of the Family, Factory and Wares from 1733 to 1833' by Leonard Whiter; published by Barrie & Jenkins; 1970; 1978 and 1989; ISBN 0-7126-2175-X.

It is important to use this book in tandem with works on Spode, or including Spode, by Peter Roden for the latest and correct historical information about the early years of the Spode businesses and family.

This is my second recommended reading on Spode history. It covers the period from 1733, the year of Josiah Spode I's birth, to 1833, the year when the company ownership and name changed. It is a neat 100 years.

This book by Leonard Whiter is regarded as a standard work on Spode history. However since publication of the 3rd edition new information has been researched. 

Scholars of Spode may know that the 3rd edition of the book has different colour illustrations from the first two editions. What many may not know is this is because the first lot of printing plates were lost! The original artwork for the publication (excluding the colour illustrations) is in the Spode archive.

This is a really good introduction to the Spode subject with information about the Spode family and the factory in Stoke-upon-Trent. This is the factory for which Spode I finally completed the purchase in 1776. It closed in 2009.
A colour image from the book
Whiter shows how the business developed and discusses and illustrates wares in different styles, shapes and patterns. Very usefully, the book includes illustrations of Spode shapes from the 1820 Shape Book which is in the Spode archive but this is not a straight reproduction and researchers should go back to the original document for complete information. Whiter groups the shapes by type which is not how they are arranged in the original early 19th century book. This can be confusing but luckily Robert Copeland spent a huge amount of time cross-referencing Whiter's pages with the original, all by hand pre-computer days, and this is also in the Spode archive. 

Whilst Curator at the museum, in 2004, I had the original document photographed so it can also be viewed in digital form.
A black & white image from the book
When Whiter researched and wrote this book, what is now the Spode archive, was privately owned by the company and it was not part of the Spode Museum Trust which was formed in 1987.

Also whilst Curator I learnt that, sadly, since publication, documents used during the research for the book were lost, returned to the wrong owners or given away so this book is an important source for some of the material now missing.

Leonard Whiter was employed by the Spode company working there from 1959 to 1974 and became a very successful Sales Director.

A copy of this book is available to read in the Spode archive.

I would recommend this as a valuable resource for anyone interested in Spode history and its earliest production items.
Back cover