14 July 2015

Composition of Services or What's in my Spode dinner set?

Salad bowl, Warwick Vase shape, Italian pattern, late 1800s
Salads, an addition to a dinner service c1870
Many people enquiring about their old Spode and Copeland dinner, dessert tea and coffee services ask what was in the original set. They want to know so that they can perhaps find missing pieces and match with similar new product or start searching for antique pieces. Or they may wish to recreate a setting for TV, film or the interpretation of a room in an historic house.
Complete supper set in its mahogany tray, Tower pattern c1814
Similarly items which made up smaller sets such as a supper set or a bachelor's set often have pieces missing and single part items from these sets are often misunderstood.
Supper set section painted with Iris early 1800s
(from Curtis's Botanical Magazine 1787) 
The composition of a service depends on:
  • for which country it was destined
  • from which period of history it came - Spode began manufacturing in in the 18th century and the factory closed in 2009
  • which social status the purchaser held
  • the whim of the purchaser
  • the wealth of the purchaser
  • fashion: did the purchaser follow old-fashioned or new styles?
Catalogue page, c1902 
Some guidance can be found in the Spode archive. Papers, including catalogues, detail the composition of dinner services, tea services, breakfast services, dessert services and toilet sets at some periods. However at some dates it was just something you knew either as a customer; or as a manufacture making and selling ware. Often nothing was written down on a formal basis. A customer could also specify if you wanted something extra, larger or very different from the norm and many wealthy customers did just that. Tea services rarely included a teapot - that was extra. Many used a silver teapot. Coffee services usually included a coffee pot. Did I mention it was not straightforward!

Old invoices and orders if they exist in an archive can help. And looking at collections in museums which occasionally have full services on show. Blogs by food historians are also useful.

However, I feel it is impossible to give a definitive answer to 'What's in my Spode dinner set?'
Invoice for random pieces & repairs 1810
(fascinating but no help at all for working out what is in a service)
Dessert services 1800-1828
Composition of dessert services 1928
Dinner & tea wares in Naran pattern, earthenware 1938
(Spot the beautiful lacquer table)
Composition of earthenware dinner services 1928
Composition of china dinner services 1928
Teaware in pattern 2136 c1815
Composition of tea services 1928
As well as pieces for the dining room, sets of ware could be ordered for the kitchen with all sorts of items available. A range was known as 'K pans' - K is for kitchen - and these were decorated with a large black or blue K but otherwise unadorned. And for the bedroom, and later bathroom, toilet ware of all sorts too was available.
Sets of 'K pans' & other items for the kitchen 1902-1910
K is for Kitchen!
Composition of toilet sets 1902-1910
with an American set too
Toilet ware patterns (detail) c1902-1910