24 September 2017

Spode Patterns in the Very Early 1800s

Saucer, pattern 312 c1803
I rather like Spode designs from the very early 1800s. So here is a look at a few of them produced on the then new bone china. By 1804 around 600 patterns had been recorded in the pattern books. The books are in the Spode archive.

Each design was recorded with a unique number. Dates of Spode pattern introductions are always approximate at this period as dates rarely appear in the pattern books. The dates given here are based on the meticulous research of Robert Copeland.
Cup & saucer, Bute shape, pattern 309 c1803 
I have chosen to show some patterns mostly on teacups, coffee cups or coffee cans.

All are bone china.

All are handpainted & gilded (unless otherwise stated). This gold decoration is... well... gold! There used to be a specific gold safe at the Spode factory in Stoke.
Spode plate (detail), pattern unrecorded, gold border, c1800
All were fired in bottle ovens multiple times for the many separate firings they required during manufacture.

These wares were produced for people who were well-to-do; wealthy enough to be able to afford this very fine and highly fashionable ware and wealthy enough to have the accompanying lifestyle. Customers included HRH The Prince of Wales, later HM King George IV, as well as many other royal families worldwide. In 1806 Spode II was appointed 'Potter & English Porcelain Manufacturer to His Royal Highness'.

These early bone china designs are elegant and of high quality. Sometimes I think they look surprisingly modern.
Teacup, London shape, pattern 312 c1803
Pattern 312, pattern inside cup
Pattern 312 has a beautiful design of roses & forget-me-nots in gold cornucopia. It is a deceptively clever design which is painted and gilded inside the cup leaving the outside plain - Spode's stunningly white bone china set off with simple, elegant gilding. As you drank your tea the pattern was revealed and prior to that, if taken without milk, shimmered through the tea. The translucency of the bone china was as important in these fine wares as its whiteness and the sumptuous decoration.

Whilst Curator at Spode I once had a go at painting inside a cup. I found it was actually impossible. Well, obviously not really, but it helped me understand further the skills on a pottery factory and why apprenticeships were so long.

A saucer in pattern 312 is shown at the top of this blogpost. Usually, at this date, only 1 saucer was provided per teacup and coffee cup/can. This worked perfectly as the two drinks were not generally served at the same time and with no well in the saucer it could take the 2 different sizes with no problem. Today (2017) saucer, teacup & coffee cup/can are often put together and described as a 'trio'. The word, though, is not one used in the early 1800s but more of a marketing word to sell antiques, particularly where large tea services have been split up.
Backstamp on teacup pattern 312
Teacup, Bute shape, pattern 319 c1803

Coffee can, Bute shape, gilded tassels, vines & grapes, pattern 329 c1803
Typical Spode handle gilding, pattern 329
Teacup, Bute shape, pattern 330 c1803
Teacup & saucer, Bute shape, sepia & gold, pattern 333 c1803
Backstamp for pattern 333
Coffee can, Bute shape, pattern 499 c1804
Teapot stand, pattern 522 c1804. More HERE>
Teapots were not always provided with a tea service as customers often chose to use a solid silver one. However if a teapot was provided it almost certainly had matching teapot stand.
Coffee can, Bute shape, pattern 555 c1804
Coffee can & saucer, Bute shape, bat printed & gilded, pattern 558 c1804
Coffee can, pattern 558 in more detail
Saucer, pattern 558
I am illustrating pots here but, of course, the pattern records were made on sheets of paper. The patterns were illustrated on various shapes and types of ware. The pattern sheets were later bound into books. There were several copies made but all the sets have not survived. The copies produced were likely to have been: a master copy, a copy for use on the factory and copy for Spode's London business.

On the factory the Spode pattern books were kept secure as they were regarded commercially sensitive. Those which remained at Spode were kept in the Pattern Safe with limited access until the late 1990s. These are the ones now in the Spode archive.
Pattern Safe 2007