22 March 2015

Spode's pattern 967... and 1645

Milk jug, bone china, New Oval shape, pattern 967, c1807
Pattern 967 is one of the most famous patterns made by Spode in the early 1800s. It was first introduced in about 1807. It is often described as a pattern in the Imari style. To find out more about Imari style patterns you can go to my Spode ABC and look on the I page.

I was reminded of this pattern on a visit to the lovely Eyam Hall last week. This is the first property ever to be leased by the National Trust from its owners, the Wright family. As the home of the Wright family for eleven generations, visitors can enjoy family portraits, furniture, objets d'art and personal belongings from each generation.

Eyam Hall, Derbyshire, built 1671
So with a well-to-do family occupying the hall it was no surprise to find a high quality Spode tea service from the early 1800s in the Dining Room. I was delighted to spot it. The milk jug above is part of the service which we were kindly allowed to photograph. The service was displayed in a fine glass-fronted cabinet which, as you can see, was not easy to snap with a phone. But the close-ups of the delightful Spode pieces came out well.
Cabinet at Eyam Hall with Spode tea service in pattern 976
This service has the milk jug, sugar box (usually referred to simply as 'milk' and 'sugar' in the Spode archive papers) and teapot in New Oval shape. This is one of my favourite shapes as it has such elegance with its sweeping lines and perfect proportions. Pattern 967, with its Imari colour palette of predominantly cobalt blue, iron red and gold, is enhanced further with the solid gilding of knobs, handles and spout. Accompanying the main pieces of this service are coffee cups and teacups in Bute shape and a small teapot in Ball shape. Ball shape teapots were made in 4 sizes, the largest being just under 5 inches high.
Sugar box & lid, bone china, New Oval shape, pattern 967, c1807
Teapot & lid, bone china, New Oval shape, pattern 967, c1807
Pattern 967 was used to decorate a huge range of wares from tea, dinner and dessert wares to desk sets which included pen trays, inkwells and taper sticks. In the image of the museum case, middle shelf, far left, you can just see a spectacular inkwell embellished with a globe surmounted by a gilded eagle. The globe is decorated in the correct style of the time by Spode's skilful painters. By Hawaii it includes the words 'Owyhee where Captain Cook died'. Cook was killed in 1779 so the globe used by the Spode designers and artists had this significant event marked and was still in use many years later.
Museum case in 2005. Items decorated in pattern 967 & other Imari designs
A revival of the style and this design at Spode in the late 1800s under the Copeland ownership included large ornamental items. As well as the Copeland mark of the time 'Spode 967' was sometimes added perhaps as part of the marketing to tie in with the original design. I have known these later pieces to be found with the Copeland marks ground out to try to pass off as an earlier date but the shape of the piece usually helps to identify the later date of production.
Spode backstamp c1807
There is another pattern which is so similar to pattern 967 that the two are often confused. This other design has pattern number 1645 and was first introduced in about 1811.
Postcard showing pattern 1645, c1811
There are subtle differences - the main one being that 1645 has much less decoration around the base of the design than 967. This is really useful to know if there is no mark on the piece.

The similarity is striking though. So much so that when the Spode company produced a postcard in about the 1980s it illustrated pattern 1645, but labelled it as pattern 967! In the postcard image you can see pattern 1645 on a suite of teawares, in the same shape as mentioned above, except for the teacup which is London shape. Note the pattern is mainly on the inside of this teacup leaving the beautiful white of Spode bone china on the outside with a simple gold line.