|Dessert plate, painted by Charles Ferdinand Hürten|
This is one plate, about 9 inches in diameter, probably from a large and elaborate dessert service which may have comprised hundreds of pieces which would also have included serving and centre pieces. Each item in the service almost certainly featured a different painting of flowers by Hürten. It was made around 1887.
|Difficult to read backstamp: Spode at the top and Copeland at the bottom|
How many times this was fired in the different types of bottle ovens at Spode cannot be known exactly but at least 6.
Spode archive as 'Madrid shape, fully pierced'. Pierced ware was cut by hand, after the piece was made from the clay, but before it was fired and was still the right softness to be cut without crumbling. The hand pierced borders would have been vulnerable throughout the whole of the manufacturing process.
The quality of Spode's bone china really shines through with this technique. It combines strength with delicacy.
The pierced border itself is very attractive but it is elaborated with touches of handpainted colour combined with the white of the bone china left undecorated. It is also gilded to a very high standard using the techniques of raised gold and chasing.
Gold* is usually applied last to a piece of ware which is then fired for the final time. After firing the gold is dull so is brought up by sanding. At some factories, like Spode, the gold was then burnished using tools tipped with bloodstones and agates of different shapes to reach the different awkward places on a pot such as round a handle. Remarkable patterns and effects could be achieved.
|Spode oil lamp, decorated with gold treated in different ways c1815|
|Burnishing 1902 (Note the open flame gas light)|
|Detail of the raised gold with the shiny pattern produced by chasing|
*Gold - real gold was used. At Spode there was a gold safe. Up to the 1960s gold preparation was undertaken by one of the Directors of the firm in a room adjoining the Master's Office which is where the safe was kept. Here there were also the scales for weighing gold out and a pestle and mortar for grinding gold - the latter is in the Spode Museum object collection. There would be tight control of gold on the factory and facilities to reclaim gold when things didn't go right. Various members of the Copeland family were members of The Goldsmiths' Company and W. T. Copeland was Prime Warden.