12 January 2014

Spode and an Odd Little Mug

Mug (probably Spode) 3" high, c1800
I bought this mug some time ago in a little interior design shop in my local town. Amongst the cushions and new stuff, it was looking lonely, unloved and had a huge crack near the handle. So it came home with me... and you can't really see the damage from this angle.

It was the beautiful lavender-blue colour of the decoration which particularly attracted me but I also thought it was early 19th century. It wasn't until a few years later I realised it was probably-actually-almost-certainly-possibly antique Spode!

The design looks slightly odd to the modern eye. The sprigged decoration looks as though it is designed to 'hang' from a top rim rather than standing upright but there is a charm about it. As well as its damage from a hard life there are manufacturing faults, such as the colour of the blue ornamentation flowing and staining the white. There is also a little yellowy-brown stain on the white probably from iron contamination. All this reminding us that making pottery is not easy particularly when a manufacturer is striving for a pure white body.

The detail shown here of a brown jug with light blue sprigs in the same design suggests that my mug might be Spode. There are no marks at all on mine but the jug is marked Spode. It also has the same moulded band around the bottom of the piece. Other Spode mugs in different designs and colours have the same shaped handle as my mug.

Spode jug (detail), c1800
It is quite possible my little mug was made by another manufacturer - I don't really mind as I like it whoever made it. Careful observation of pieces helps to give attribution to unmarked objects from the early 1800s but as manufacturers invariably imitated each other and sometimes bought items, such as sprig moulds, at bankrupt sales of failed manufacturers, attribution is not always straightforward.
No marks on my mug (top);
impressed Spode on the brown jug (bottom)
Wooden tray of old Spode, Copeland & Garrett, and Copeland
sprig moulds awaiting careful cleaning, research and cataloguing,
Spode Museum 2006