01 December 2011

Spode and Italian Backstamps

Plate, earthenware, Italian pattern number 2614 c1818
1. Backstamp for Italian pattern c1891 -1970
Illustration 1 shows a Spode backstamp, or mark, in an oval style frequently used on one of Spode's most famous blue printed patterns: 'Italian'.

Many collectors like to find out the date of their pieces and, using a combination of backstamps, datemarks and styles of the shapes of pieces made in this pattern, it is occasionally possible to date pieces accurately. For example if the piece is simply marked SPODE (illustration 2) the piece can be dated from c1816 when the pattern was introduced to 1833 when the company name changed. (Note that the mark was in use from about 1810 but as the 'Italian' pattern was not introduced till about 1816 this starts the date range for the piece.)
2. Backstamp c1810-1833
'Italian' pattern was in production by the Spode company from 1816 to 2009 and when you reach the late 19th century and move through the 20th century things get a bit tricky when trying to accurately date pieces. The backstamp in illustration 1 was used for a very long time. Probably introduced in about 1891 it was used until 1970. By 1847 the Spode company was owned by the Copeland family but they often incorporated the Spode name to perpetuate the brand and use it for marketing purposes sometimes prefixing pattern names with the word Spode's as in this case.

As 'Italian' pattern was produced for such a long period, during different ownerships of the company, many marks are used but the most usual is that in illustration 1. To narrow down the date look for datemarks and think about the style of the piece too - for example a Utility style teapot is going to have a narrow date range in the mid-20th century; an elaborate, tall tea urn would date from around the 1890s to the 1910s; a table lamp for electric power probably after 1930; etc
Lamp with matching shade, Italian pattern 1930
There is no particular clear reason or any consistency in the application of backstamps and datemarks used by the Spode company throughout its whole history. Whilst this can be frustrating for collectors it can be great fun working out the details and using your detective skills to pull all the evidence together.