13 June 2014

Spode and Football

It's World Cup 2014 and time to link Spode and football together!

My favourite football item from the Spode factory is a large architectural slab depicting a scene from a football match. It was made in the 1870s by Spode under the ownership of the Copeland family. There seem to be a lot of clenched fists and little attention to the ball but I do like the outfits. This is just one of a set of large slabs depicting sporting scenes which would have been set into the walls of a room of a grand house. It is handpainted in blue by R. J. Abraham who was one of Spode's premier artists. The monogram of WTC can be seen to the lower left indicating W. T. Copeland and the artist's monogram to the right.

Manufacturing large slabs in this size (about 2' X 2'6") and firing them flat, with no warping and cracking, shows how technically accomplished the Spode factory was. They were fired in the bottle ovens at this period.

A few other football-themed wares were made by the company over the years including a large three-handled mug which was commissioned for the Coronation of HM King George VI in 1937 by the President of Stoke City Football Club. (The club is often referred to as 'The Potters').

This large mug was commissioned to present to other members of the First Division of the Football League. It was decorated with heavily gilded handles in the form of a Stafford knot and depicted a scene of a football match, the Stoke City players wearing their famous red and white shirts. Only 30 were made. I believe there is one in the Stoke City Football Club collection and, in view of its purpose, perhaps surviving in other club's collections too.

Postcard of Spode's last bottle oven, now gone. Many such ovens were on the Spode factory site.