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

23 June 2015

Spode, Copeland, Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington

In 2015 many commemorations, battle re-enactments and discussions have been taking place connected with the Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington for the 200th anniversary year. I felt it was time to bring in the Spode connection...

The soup tureen, cover and stand, illustrated here, is in 'Wellington' pattern. Part of a dinner service, it was printed from finely engraved copper plates. But the Spode-Copeland-Wellington connection is much more than just that of a pottery factory manufacturing, marketing and selling dinnerware associated with a famous military man.

William Taylor Copeland owned the Spode factory when 'Wellington' pattern was first produced. The late Robert Copeland wrote: 'It was probably a friendship between the Duke of Wellington and William Taylor Copeland that led the latter to honour the Iron Duke by reproducing scenes from Wellington's military victories reproduced onto dinnerware'. How well the two knew each other I do not know but Copeland was a young Lord Mayor of London in the 1830s and also served on committees for good causes patronised by the Duke.

Different shapes within a dinner service depicted different scenes of Wellington's military victories. The exact date of introduction of this pattern is unknown but possibly about 1839. Actual pieces are rare so it may not have been produced for long, ending soon after the Duke's death in 1852.
Print from a damaged copper, 'Wellington' pattern, 'Passing the Douro'
Most of the military scenes used are only known from copper plates from which the pattern was transfer printed and not from Spode pieces. The copper plates are often damaged as they could be reused when a pattern was no longer in production. The plain back could be prepared for a new engraving but this 'destroyed' the original engraving ie it could no longer be used for printing. This happened to the copper plate for one of the scenes used for the pattern depicting 'Passing the Douro'. It is illustrated here as a 'pull' (or print) from the copper plate not on an object. Although damaged, the copper engraving is still an important historical record.
 'Wellington' meat dish (centre), snapshot Spode museum showcase in 2003
The snapshot of a Spode museum showcase case shows, centre, a meat dish in 'Wellington' pattern depicting the 'Battle of Salamanca'. This version is printed in brown, recorded as pattern B907 and made in 1847 under the Copeland and Garrett period of the factory. Then from left to centre a parian bust of Admiral Lord Nelson, c1848; a parian bust of the Duke of Wellington, marked 'Comte d'Orsay Sc. 1852', made in 1891; and right are 2 handpainted plates celebrating the laying of the Transatlantic Cable in 1866 - but that's another story...

21" Gravy dish, 'Wellington' pattern depicting 'Retreat of the French Army from Arroyo to Molinos'

Robert Copeland's paper was published in 'Country Life Magazine' in 1984. It was entitled 'Pursuing the Potters' Tribute: the Spode Wellington Service'. Items made in this design are known to have been exported via the Hudson's Bay Company to North America.

Extract from 'Country Life Magazine' 1984
There are other connections between Spode, Copeland and Wellington.

A bust of the Duke of Wellington was made by the Spode company in about 1824. About 24 cm high it was made from red earthenware, glazed and then coloured to look like bronze. The back had a special backstamp: 'Wellington Spode and Copeland, Fecit'.
Bust of Wellington, Spode and Copeland, c1824
Backstamp on the Spode and Copeland bust
A parian figure was also produced by the company around the time of the Duke's death in 1852 showing him seated. Parian figures were often produced as pairs. Not a matching pair but two associated subjects which were usually referred to as 'Companions'. The Spode company perhaps did not see the irony of choosing Napoleon as Wellington's companion on one occasion...
Seated figure of Wellington, parian, Copeland, c1852/3 (Copeland ref S195)
Seated figure of Napoleon, Companion to Wellington, parian, Copeland, 1853 (Copeland ref S113)
1873 trade catalogue featuring listing for Wellington and Napoleon
Other parian items were produced too. A statuette of the Duke of Wellington standing was made in about 1845 under the Copeland & Garrett ownership of the company (1833-1847). See Robert Copeland's book 'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' ref S193.

Later, in about 1848, under the Copeland ownership, a figure described as 'Duke of Wellington Equestrian Statue' was made although one has never been seen - so far...

Three parian busts were produced: one in 1846; and two in 1852 in different sizes. The bust in 1852 was from an original by Count D'Orsay. It is understood he had offered it to Minton's who had refused but Copeland accepted his terms.
Bust of the Duke of Wellington, parian, Copeland & Garrett, 1846 (Copeland ref B92a),

Bust of the Duke of Wellington, parian, Copeland, 1852 (Copeland ref B92),

'Pursuing the Potters' Tribute:  the Spode Wellington Service' by Robert Copeland, 'Country Life' published 1984

'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' by Robert Copeland (details on my booklist)

'Spode/Copeland Transfer Printed Patterns found at 20 Hudson's Bay company Sites Part of a series on Canadian Historic Sites' by Lynne Sussman (details on my booklist)

13 May 2015

Spode and Cracked Ice and Prunus

Barrel Scent Jar in Cracked Ice and Prunus pattern c1821
Spode's early 19th century pattern Cracked Ice and Prunus was derived from an 18th century Chinese porcelain design. The design represents the coming of spring. The elements of the design show cherry blossom petals (prunus) falling on to the background of thawing ice.
To the left of the Barrel Scent Jar is a covered dish in Chinese porcelain
The earliest record of the design in the Spode pattern books, in the Spode archive, is pattern number 3667 first recorded in about 1821. The pattern was printed in underglaze blue in an all-over design known as a sheet pattern. It is known on plain shapes and on moulded edge pieces such as Gadroon shape. Early examples can be found in earthenware but the design was also used on stone china which Spode II developed to match Chinese export porcelain. Dinner and some teawares were produced; decorative and unusual shapes are rarely seen at this period in the early 1800s.
Specially commissioned service printed & hand coloured border, central coat of arms for Smallpeace of Whitby, c1830s
The design was popular during the Spode period up to 1833 and was produced later by Copeland & Garrett (the name of the company from 1833-1847).

In the early 1900s the pattern was revived as rim decoration with plain centres, for example on Camilla shape with pattern number 2/6663. It was also combined with various other patterns which were used as the centre design such as Peacock, Trophies, Chinese Figures and Vienna Bird.
Tableware from 1938 earthenware catalogue
Trophies Marble on Gadroon shape 1820s/1830s
The pattern was produced on both bone china and earthenware in the 20th century. There were various other versions with the 'cracks' gilded or the prunus painted. A toilet ware set was produced on the elegant Queen Anne shape. In one form or another it was in almost continuous production through to the 1930s.

The names Marble and Mosaic have also been used for the design and are thought to refer to the use of the background of Cracked Ice without the prunus blossom. A version of Tumbledown Dick pattern uses Marble or Mosaic as the background to the bird and foliage design and a variant of Willis pattern has it as the rim border decoration.
Tumbledown Dick pattern on Marble sheet c1823 (detail)