15 March 2015

Spode's pattern 2812

Coffee cup, bone china, London shape, handpainted & gilded, pattern 2812 c1820
How much can you say about one cup? Well it seems quite a lot!

Not long ago I came across this lone coffee cup made by Spode and found I couldn't resist purchasing it. The design reminds me of sumptuous dress fabrics of the period.

The cup is bone china, London shape and decorated in pattern 2812 of about 1820.

Inside the cup showing the skilful painting and gilding revealed as you drained your cup
Once part of a service now, like many antique cups, it is separated from its fellow pieces. Made in about 1820 the likely composition of the tea service would have been 6 cups the same as this, 6 teacups and 6 saucers. Not 12 saucers, as tea and coffee were not usually served at the same time so the saucer could be interchanged. There could also be a milk jug, sugar box with lid and a slop bowl. It is possible there would have been a teapot and stand but often silver teapots were used with a tea service such as this.

Detail of underside of rose painted inside the cup
This pattern of pink roses with gilded detail was an expensive design. Not only because of the gold but the pink ceramic colour was a derivative of gold. Note these are not repeated identical roses but each one is different. I particularly like the one inside the cup, facing a right-handed drinker. It shows the underside of the flower. Incidentally the painting, gilding and burnishing were different skills probably carried out by at least 3 different people. So with the various stages of making, handling, dipping, decorating, several firings, burnishing, selecting, packing and despatch this item would have passed through many, many hands. Find out about these skills in the Potbank Dictionary.

Spode's bone china is very white, translucent, vitreous and resonant. It was very high quality and aimed at the well-to-do. Almost certainly invented at Spode around 1799/1800 it was a huge commercial success for Spode II and his successors.
Translucency - note rose painted on outside showing through the bone china
This pattern was recorded on paper in the Pattern Books (now in the Spode archive) with a unique number of 2812. Most patterns have a number not a name. This is more clearly understood when you realise that there are over 75,000 Spode patterns recorded on paper. The uniqueness of the number helped orders to be repeated without error. Using a name caused difficulties as often names were reused for completely different designs. Names, though, it has to be admitted, are more marketable than a number and became increasingly popular in the 20th century. The patterns were still allocated their unique number as well.
Backstamp painted in black detailing the company name, the pattern number & workman's mark
A seemingly similar pattern could have several different numbers. Why? Well careful examination in the Spode archive might reveal one has gilded detail; the other (at a lower cost) had no gilding. Or perhaps one was on one shape and another version was produced on a different shape. The Pattern Books are essentially production records as well as design records.
Gilding detail with distinctive Spode handle gilding

You can find out more about Spode cup shapes and patterns HERE> and also HERE>