25 November 2015

Bone China

Many people ask me about the history of bone china  - one of the most famous and successful products from the Spode factory. The Spode recipe became the industry standard and transformed the Staffordshire pottery industry.

So I have just published a dedicated Bone China page. Click HERE> to learn more about this 'particularly English porcelain'; and its direct connection with the Spode factory at the end of the 18th century.

'Toy' teaset and tray, bone china, pattern 3157 c1821
NB the tray is about the size of a postcard!

21 November 2015

Spode and a Teapot

Stoneware teapot, grey 1920s
This teapot was made in the 1920s and is from the Spode factory under the ownership of W. T. Copeland & Sons. It is made from stoneware - a pottery body which is hard, vitreous and opaque. Stonewares can be made in many different colours. This one is grey; although I think it sometimes looks like a pale blue-green. The shape of the teapot is referred to as number S1857 which is illustrated on a catalogue page and decorated in a different way - sprigging - in a catalogue of about 1900.
Catalogue page, S1857 right, 2nd row, c1900
I love the decorative detail on my teapot which is produced by a technique called rouletting, using a tool called a roulette.... but is nothing to do with gambling.

The roulette is a hand tool. It has a small decorative metal wheel attached to a wooden handle. Different patterns and different widths were available to produce a variety of decorative beads. A combination of designs was often used together. The roulette was pressed into the 'green', or leather hard, clay as the pot was rotated. This is called 'running a bead'. (An illustration of the process can be found in 'Manufacturing Processes of Tableware during the Eighteenth & Nineteenth Centuries' by Robert Copeland, page 110. Click HERE> for full details on my booklist.)
Many years ago whilst I was curator at Gladstone Pottery Museum, I accepted a gift of rouletting tools into the collection. I had never seen them before and thought they were rather beautiful. I was delighted to find some rouletting tools on the excellent website Staffordshire Past Track. Even more delighted to find that they were the very same tools I had received as I recognised the collection number done in my writing!
Teapot base with backstamps, printed and impressed
There is 1 backstamp on the teapot lid and 3 backstamps on the teapot base. The one on the lid is simply part of the printed backstamp which is used on the base. The full mark would not have fitted on the lid.

On the base there is a factory mark printed in brown which was used from about 1920 to 1957. This teapot is from the 1920s. Another factory mark which is impressed; and a 30 which indicates the size of the piece. This teapot was made in about 4 sizes. According to the 1900 catalogue size 30 held a pint and half. I just tested it and it does.
Teapot lid with backstamp, printed in brown.
You can find more rouletted patterns HERE> on my Sprigged Stoneware page; and HERE> on wares from the early 1800s decorated in pattern 1166.

29 October 2015

Spode and a Coffee Pot

Coffee pot, Meadowsweet pattern 1958
This Spode coffee pot is in two colours. The colours are not painted but are coloured clays - in this case Flemish Green with yellow. They are soft delicate colours and, combined with the plain, perfectly proportioned shape, give a classic mid-twentieth century style. This combination of colours was given a pattern name of Meadowsweet and was introduced in 1958. The shape of the coffee pot is Tean shape.

Flemish Green and other coloured clays were introduced after World War II. You can find out more about the background to why plain colours were popular at this period on my Spode ABC - just go to the F page and scroll down to Flemish Green.
Backstamps: printed company mark & pattern name; impressed 24s
Although I love it and bought this coffee pot recently, this particular colour combination seems not to have been a commercial success and was probably not made for long. Flemish Green, though, continued in production until 1973.

The pattern has its own backstamp which combined the pattern name with the company name. On this coffee pot there is also an impressed mark: 24s. This is the size of the coffee pot. Usually the number is seen without the superscript s. Pottery sizing is complicated but in general the larger the number, the smaller the piece.

Leaflet Flemish Green 1958
Coffee pots were usually supplied as part of a coffee set. This may sound obvious but teapots were not supplied with teasets as a rule but were purchased separately. A tradition that grew out of using silver teapots when serving tea in the early 19th century ie a customer may not always require a ceramic teapot.

The illustration of a 1958 leaflet shows the range in Flemish Green; Meadowsweet would have had similar items available. You can see my coffee pot and to its right a Utility teapot.

The marketing blurb on the leaflet makes it hard to avoid purchase:

'Flemish Green Table ware is specially made for everyday use. The shapes are easy to clean and pleasant to use. The body is strong and chip resistant, while the glaze is hard and will not craze after years of regular use. The colour is pleasing to the eye and the range of items is wide.'

Plate detail, Flemish Green border with yellow centre, ie 2 layers of clay