17 December 2016

Spode and a Victorian Christmas Pattern

Copeland, small plate, Christmas design, pattern number D5208 (detail of top border) c1868
Earlier in this festive season I posted new information about Spode's famous 20th Century design Christmas Tree. But there are other Christmas designs produced by the Spode company under its various ownerships going back to the early 1800s. Go to my Spode & Christmas page for more information.

The now iconic image of a Christmas tree does not seem to appear in any of the Spode designs until 1938. From research in the Spode Pattern Books over the years I became familiar with Christmas and seasonal designs. Recorded on paper, these are production records. I admit to rarely having seen actual pots decorated with these festive patterns.

So I really am grateful to Paul Hanson of Philadelphia who kindly shared another of his Christmas pieces with me. It was he who found new information about Spode's Christmas Tree pattern detailed in my previous blogpost.

I was delighted when the images arrived as it is one of my favourite Christmas designs from Spode, then under the ownership of W. T. Copeland & Sons.
Copeland small plate, Christmas design, pattern number D5208 c1868
Here we go back to the Victorian era. This lovely seasonal plate, which is 6⅞ inches in diameter, is decorated in pattern number D5208. This pattern number was first recorded in about 1868 although the overall design was registered a year earlier.

Its design is pretty, charming and festive with cheerful seasonal messages on pink ribbons. Have you spotted the 'cartoons' amongst the entwined branches with holly leaves and berries? The designer seems to have had a good sense of fun. I like the dancing 'cartoon' which feels a lot more modern than mid-19th century.
'Cartoon' detail - perhaps a bit scary?
Dancing 'cartoon' detail
Other images used in this design record a parade of food and drink including a giant pudding topped with holly carried on a large dish but this scene is not featured on this plate.

The pattern is printed in outline and then hand coloured. Hand coloured is the phrase which was generally used in the Spode pattern books now in the Spode archive. Women and girls did the hand colouring ie painting over a printed outline; men and boys were allowed to paint. Both sexes served long apprenticeships for this specialist skilled work.

On the back of Paul Hanson's plate there are several backstamps.
The green printed mark of 2 entwined Cs back-to-back and Copeland underneath is the company mark, usually, but not always, used on bone china. It was in use from about 1850-1890. I am not sure if this plate is bone china or not as I have not seen it 'in the flesh'. In the absence of a datemark I think this plate dates from about 1868 when the pattern was first recorded.

The black printed diamond shaped mark is a registration mark giving coded information about when this design was registered with the British Patent Office. This one is for October 26th 1867 and has the registered number 212881. In Robert Copeland's book 'Spode & Copeland Marks & Other Relevant Intelligence' it is described as 'Mug & saucer design A Merry Christmas to you'.

The National Archives now have some registered designs online for many different companies and I have to admit I surprised myself when I found it - click here.

On the National Archives web page there is no illustration but there is a written record which says it is for a plate. It also says 'earthenware'. Once a design was registered it did not prevent use of that design by the company in different ways from its original registration such as on on different shapes, in different colours and on different pottery bodies.

The red number is handpainted and reads D5208 followed by dots. The D5208 is the pattern number and the dots probably a workman's mark ie that of a paintress.
Pattern number handpainted in red
Happy New Year!