06 January 2011

The Spode Logo and the Spode Museum Trust Logo

Shards found on the Spode site with a variety of backstampsc1800

The famous red Spode logo was introduced, in its well-known design, in 1970. 

1970 was an important year for the Spode company as it marked the (supposed) bicentenary of the founding of the company by Josiah Spode I. He had been working as a potter in various businesses from the mid-1750s. Something of an entrepreneur he had juggled mortgages and business partnerships for several years but by 1776 was established in Stoke with his own successful pottery company. 1770 was traditionally the date adopted by the company as the 'start date' of the Spode business. Later research has found that this was not strictly true and Spode I had been in business with partners from at least 1767 and was independent in 1776.* 
Backstamp hand painted in red. Also seen in black and in gold.
By the end of the 1700s Spode I, and his son Josiah Spode II, had brought the company to the forefront of the British ceramic industry by this time firmly based in North Staffordshire. Perfecting the underglaze blue printed ware, for which the company was famous; and, later, inventing their beautiful pure white, translucent bone china, this father and son team established Spode as a brand which endures.
Printed backstamp 1821
Early wares produced by the company in the late 1700s and early 1800s were often unmarked. There are several reasons for this: as a new brand the name was initially unknown; it cost money to apply the marks by hand onto pieces; and sometimes Spode made blanks i.e. undecorated pieces to sell to other manufacturers, for example Wedgwood, who would then decorate them to complete their own order.

Gradually as the Spodes developed and established their brand and their pottery became highly desirable by all sorts of customers from royalty downwards, the pieces began to be marked. One of the backstamps (marks) in the early 1800s was an elegant handpainted Spode in script - sometimes in upper case and sometimes in lowercase; usually neat and nearly always in red. Other marks at this time were printed and always elegant in design.
1970 'all-purpose' logo used for ceramic & other product, company stationery, buildings, packaging, marketing etc
The designer, John Sutherland-Hawes, was commissioned to produce a new logo to mark the bicentenary of the company in 1970 (see above). His brief was to present a uniform image of excellence. Taking inspiration from the early 19th century red painted Spode marks plus later printed adaptations he produced the 'Gothic' style logo in red which became world famous.

Whatever the ownership of the company the Spode brand endured and when the Copeland family owned the company from 1833-1970 the Spode brand was always used alongside their name often styled Copeland late Spode.

From 1970 the Sutherland-Hawes Spode logo design was used exclusively, lasting until the closure of the factory in 2009.

The Spode Museum Trust, an independent charity, had its own logo re-designed by Stephen Morris of Morris Nicholson and Cartwright in 2000. It cleverly combines Spode's famous Willow pattern with an illustration of the Spode factory at the end of the 1700s.

Spode Museum Trust logo, 2000

Plate made by Spode, late 1700s/early 1800s, featuring what is believed to be the Spode factory
*Roden, Peter; 'Josiah Spode (1733-1797): his formative influences and the various Potworks associated with him' Northern Ceramics Society Journal Vol 14 1997