22 February 2015

Spode, Shoes and Slippers

Slipper inkwell (middle), bone china, handpainted with a paisley design and gilded c1820
Spode made a number of shoes or slippers from the early 1800s to about 2000. All are no bigger than about 5 inches long and some much smaller. Some were purely ornamental but the oldest ones, made in the 1820s, were slipper inkwells. They were part of desk sets. Only the wealthy, who were also educated, could afford and had need of these items which meant they are exquisitely decorated with the most expensive designs. They also followed the designs of fashionable shoes of the period.

'Writing necessities' bone china, pattern 3993, from Robert Copeland's book 'Ceramic Bygones'
In the image labelled 'writing necessities' you can see a range of items in pattern 3993 made in about 1824. Spot the slipper inkwell on the left behind the pen/pencil tray. Pattern 3993 is decorated with a crimson ground - crimson is a derivative of gold and consequently a very expensive colour for ceramic decoration. This is coupled with decoration in a technique known as 'raised and cut up'. Look under R on the Potbank Dictionary for details. This enabled texture and detail to be added to the elegant and sumptuous gilding. The same style slipper inkwell was also made with a cobalt blue ground (another expensive colour) in pattern 4054 of c1825. Some of the designs of these slipper inkwells had the 'soles' painted to look like leather.

Slipper inkwell, bone china, as pattern 4054 but c1985 in a range called 'Spode Museum Reproductions'

Slipper inkwell bird's eye view showing stopper, quill holders and other slots c1820
Spode backstamp and 'sole' of pale blue slipper inkwell above
Inkwells were made by Spode in many shapes at this period as part of sets and stand-alone items. A further look into this subject will have to wait for a future blogpost. In the meantime go to my Spode ABC and look for Inkwells on the I page which will give you a link for a Spode 1820 Shape Book.

But back to shoes and slippers...

The shape was also made as a toy or miniature by Spode, under the Copeland ownership. These were probably purely ornamental. The tiny bone china shoe looked like an elegant but worn floppy slipper and was made in the late 1800s. These too would have been expensive trinkets.
Slipper, bone china, late 1800s
Slipper, bone china, late 1800s
In about 2000 some miniatures were made by Spode and they included slippers. My favourite design was taken from the Spode pattern book of c1813 based on pattern number 1865. This was called Astor when reintroduced on teaware and toys and also given the new pattern number of Y8632. Originally hand painted it was decorated by lithography known as waterslide at Spode. Both the antique version and the new version of the pattern were gilded.

Spode slipper, bone china, pattern Y8632 c2000