23 November 2016

Spode Pattern 329 & a bit about Pattern Numbers

Coffee cup, Bute shape pattern number 329 c1803
This beautiful early 19th century coffee cup is made from Spode's very white bone china. It is handpainted and gilded, all of which was done by hand. It would have been used with a saucer. And it would have been just one piece from a tea and coffee service. 

The design has pattern number 329 which was first recorded in the Spode Pattern Books in about 1803.
Detail of gilding to handle done in a very 'Spode style'
I love everything about it from its shape, Bute shape, to the pure whiteness and quality of Spode's bone china to the slightly quirky design. And especially the beautiful, soft colours combined with gold. I wonder what the design influence for this was?

This one little cup would have had to go through at least 4 firings in the Spode bottle ovens... and through a lot of skilled hands from the processing of the raw clay to the burnishing of the gold.

Here's a bit more about the Spode pattern records of which 329 was just one.

Amongst the papers in the Spode archive are the Spode Pattern Books. They date from about 1800 to about 1998 when pattern recording ceased.
Pattern Books in the Pattern Safe at Spode 2007
In the Pattern Books about 75,000 patterns are recorded.

That's a lot of patterns.

For one company.

Think how many existed for the whole industry...

Most patterns recorded in the Spode archive do not have a name - but they do have a unique pattern number. Sometimes in the early years of the factory only the pattern number appeared on a piece and no company name.
Backstamp from a Spode teacup in pattern 889 c1806. It can be confusing, it is not 688!
Even if patterns did have a name they still had a number as there might be several versions of a design. The exception to the rule was for patterns printed in a single colour from an engraved copper plate. The engraved copper plate then served as the record... unless extra colour and/or gilding was added then the pattern was given a number. See my blogs on Italian pattern - click here>.
Salad Bowl, Italian printed in a single colour: no pattern number, late 1800s
Dessert plate, Italian printed, handcoloured & gilded: pattern number 2614, c1818
Once a design was accepted for production it was allocated its number and then recorded on paper. Later, as the company grew, and the volume of patterns increased the sheets of paper were bound into books and became known as the Pattern Books.

In the early 1800s multiple copies were done by hand, at least 3 if not more. For example, a master copy was made, one for use on the factory and one for the London business. Some pages are annotated 'Sent to London' usually with a date added.

Not all the sets of pattern records survive for the early 1800s. Fragments are known in collections both private and public. The Pattern Books were highly regarded by the Spode company under its various ownerships and carefully protected as 'commercially sensitive' until about 2005.

The Pattern Books (essentially business records of the company) eventually became part of the Spode archive, This is now deposited with the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives which looks after the best collection of papers and books relating to the whole of the Staffordshire Pottery Industry. Click here for more details about the Spode archive.

Stoke-on-Trent City Archives also holds the amazing Minton archive - the Minton factory was about a two minute walk from the Spode factory in Stoke. (It's now a Sainsbury's). The Stoke-on-Trent City Archives have a really good blog about Minton - click here>
 Pattern Books in the Pattern Safe at Spode 2007