|Teapot stand, bone china, pattern 522 c1804
On the cobbles by one stall was a higgledy-piggledy pile of plates, dishes and saucers. Racing against the moment they would be hauled from my view into their packaging I spotted what I thought was a pretty Edwardian dish with painted cornflowers. I extracted it quickly and carefully from its pile and knew instantly from its look and feel that it was about 100 years older than my first thoughts and was an early 19th century teapot stand.
|Part tea service, bone china, New Oval shape, pattern 893 c1806. Note the stand under the teapot
|'Combed' underside of the stand more usual of early 1800s than early 1900s
The underside of a piece is always important to scrutinise to see if there are any clues to a manufacturer. The backstamp was simply 522 handpainted in gold. As a process of elimination I checked my Spode notes and found pattern number 522 recorded as a 'missing number' - ie there is no paper record in the Spode archive showing what it was like. In fact patterns 518 to 522 are all 'missing'.
|Teapot stand backstamp, pattern number 522 painted in gold
Why was this pattern missing from the Spode record? There are several possible reasons one of which could be that the records on pieces of paper may have been physically lost. The patterns were originally on loose sheets and only later bound into books.
I was lucky to find further clues to the manufacturer of my stand as some years ago I had been contacted by a collector and Spode enthusiast and provided with a photograph of this 'missing' pattern on a sugar box (sometimes referred to as a sucrier).
Identifying unmarked pieces it easier when the piece is holloware rather than flatware like my teapot stand. Holloware ware shapes are usually more particular to a manufacturer than a surface pattern, which could have been produced by several different manufacturers. The sugar box in Old Oval shape matched the pattern on my stand and had the same gilded 522 mark. The shape was unmistakably a Spode shape confirming the pattern as (almost certainly) Spode by its owner, an authority on unusual Spode objects and hunter of 'missing' pattern numbers.
An image of the sugar box in pattern 522 is below but unfortunately doesn't show the distinctive handles of Old Oval shape. So I include an image of a complete Spode Old Oval sugar box with its lid in pattern 477 where you can just see the gilded handles. Also note the gilded pattern on the shoulder is the same as that on the 522 sugar box.
|Sugar box (detail), pattern 522 c1804. Note how the gold has worn.
|Spode sugar box & lid, bone china, Old Oval shape, pattern 477 c1804 (I love this pattern with its panels of flowers interspersed with gold stars)
I thought it would be fun to look a bit more closely at the design. The pattern is handpainted and gilded and at first glance looks simple but is actually quite complex. It comprises a series of borders around a centre of hand painted cornflowers and gilded leaves.
|Teapot stand, border detail
|Teapot stand cornflower and leaf details in centre