08 May 2014

Happy Birthday Josiah Spode II

Naive portrait Spode II on a Spode ceramic plaque
Josiah Spode II was born on May 8th 1755.  He was a master potter, hugely successful businessman, entrepreneur, inventor and innovator... and pretty good at marketing too.

In 1806 he welcomed the Prince of Wales to his factory for a tour around the works. After the visit he was awarded his first Royal Warrant and was styled 'Potter and English Porcelain Manufacturer to HRH the Prince of Wales'. When the Prince of Wales acceded to the throne in 1820, Spode was again awarded the Royal Warrant, becoming potter to HM King George IV. Several styles of stationery were used by the firm - including this accolade - for the London business often known as Spode & Copeland.
Letterhead used by the company for their London business
portrait of Spode II, looking very fine in his hunting costume, can be see by clicking here. This is the source for the naive painting of him on a Spode ceramic plaque.

The oil painting is on the wonderful ArtUK website and is from the collection of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. They also have another portrait of him which you can see by clicking here (ignore the date of his birth!).

After learning the trade of a master potter under his father, Spode II left Stoke for London in 1787. Here he set up home with his young family and, importantly, began the Spode business in the capital city. Spode II returned to Stoke at the death of his father in 1797 to run the factory. He grew the business further and built himself a mansion nearby. It is his legacy that leads to the company being described thus 'The Spode factory was without doubt the most important factory in the 19th century'.
The Mount - Spode II's new mansion completed 1804
His home, The Mount, still survives not far from the Spode factory in Stoke. It looks particularly splendid on a vase (made by his own company, of course) thought to date from about 1825. The vase is in the V & A collections.