|Spode cup, Bute shape, no backstamps
|Spode cup, Bute shape, Love Chase border,
pluck & dust method of decoration
|Spode gilding detail to handle
Two of the main shapes made in teawares were Bute shape and London shape made by most of the potters at this period. For Spode, London shape came in around 1813; prior to that Bute shape had been the most usual having been in production at the factory from 1800 or earlier. The unmarked cup shown here, decorated with a red border, is Bute shape; the particular detail of the handle strongly signifies it is Spode together with the style of gilding on the handle. The pattern is actually a known Spode pattern originally produced as a blue printed pattern and called Love Chase. Further research finds it is recorded as pattern 1119 of about 1808. But even without this record the evidence is there to point to Spode manufacture.
You can page through an 1820 Spode Shape Book on line by clicking here and then select teawares to look at the different shapes. Bute shape is on page 163. London shape is on page 166. If you look closer at this Shape Book you should also spot that there were, for example, several sizes of milk jug, slop bowl and cups on offer - a bit different from the more standard tea services of the modern era. An open bowl is for slops; a sugar has a lid. You can find lots of shapes for teawares in this book and examine the handles to help you identify pieces. The name of the shape is given at the top of the page. (Another copy of this book is in the Spode Archive with some differences but I do not think a direct study between the 2 copies has ever been done).
|Spode cup and saucer, London shape, unrecorded pattern
|Spode cup, London shape, backstamp
Handpainted and gilded in the expensive combination of cobalt blue and gold together with voluptuous white roses it is actually a bit over the top! It probably dates to around 1820. Many of Spode's patterns of this period had the pattern painted inside the cup with gilding on the plain white of the outside or vice versa or sometimes the outside simply left white. In the latter case the china is so translucent you can see the pattern inside through it.
|Spode cup, London shape,
solid gilding to the handle
Thank you to Janis Rodwell who, after seeing this post, tells me the cup and saucer matches Minton's pattern 827; and that Minton had a gap in their production of bone china from 1816-1824. So, as I thought, it does seem that this is a matching and a Minton customer came to Spode to match an existing service when it was not available during this break in production. Perhaps the bold Spode marks on both cup and saucer would tempt that customer to come back to Spode in the future.
To add to the exuberance of this design the handle is solidly gilded. The gilding looks beautiful in candlelight which is how these pieces would have been seen when new (and modern) in the early 1800s.
Gold was a big part of the expensive patterns from the Spode factory throughout its history, always using gold and never a substitute. Gold decoration was added last and fired on at a low temperature. Once fired and out of the kiln it looked dull and brownish, so it had to be burnished, and was also sometimes chased on the most expensive pieces. Tools with tips of agate or bloodstone were used for this skilled job. Different treatments to the gold after firing could give different finishes used together with great effect.
|Spode cup and saucer, London shape,
bird's eye view
|Coffee cup, Spode bone china,
London shape, pattern 2169
The London shape coffee cup shown here is a favourite pattern - simple and elegant, recorded as pattern 2169. It has a broad, lavender, groundlayed band and simple gilded lines combined with Spode's beautiful white bone china.
The pattern was first recorded in about 1815. This cup has a Copeland backstamp showing that the pattern could still be available much later in about 1847. If this cup had had no mark it is likely to have been dated much earlier.