23 June 2015

Spode, Copeland, Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington

In 2015 many commemorations, battle re-enactments and discussions have been taking place connected with the Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington for the 200th anniversary year. I felt it was time to bring in the Spode connection...

The soup tureen, cover and stand, illustrated here, is in 'Wellington' pattern. Part of a dinner service, it was printed from finely engraved copper plates. But the Spode-Copeland-Wellington connection is much more than just that of a pottery factory manufacturing, marketing and selling dinnerware associated with a famous military man.

William Taylor Copeland owned the Spode factory when 'Wellington' pattern was first produced. The late Robert Copeland wrote: 'It was probably a friendship between the Duke of Wellington and William Taylor Copeland that led the latter to honour the Iron Duke by reproducing scenes from Wellington's military victories reproduced onto dinnerware'. How well the two knew each other I do not know but Copeland was a young Lord Mayor of London in the 1830s and also served on committees for good causes patronised by the Duke.

Different shapes within a dinner service depicted different scenes of Wellington's military victories. The exact date of introduction of this pattern is unknown but possibly about 1839. Actual pieces are rare so it may not have been produced for long, ending soon after the Duke's death in 1852.
Print from a damaged copper, 'Wellington' pattern, 'Passing the Douro'
Most of the military scenes used are only known from copper plates from which the pattern was transfer printed and not from Spode pieces. The copper plates are often damaged as they could be reused when a pattern was no longer in production. The plain back could be prepared for a new engraving but this 'destroyed' the original engraving ie it could no longer be used for printing. This happened to the copper plate for one of the scenes used for the pattern depicting 'Passing the Douro'. It is illustrated here as a 'pull' (or print) from the copper plate not on an object. Although damaged, the copper engraving is still an important historical record.
 'Wellington' meat dish (centre), snapshot Spode museum showcase in 2003
The snapshot of a Spode museum showcase case shows, centre, a meat dish in 'Wellington' pattern depicting the 'Battle of Salamanca'. This version is printed in brown, recorded as pattern B907 and made in 1847 under the Copeland and Garrett period of the factory. Then from left to centre a parian bust of Admiral Lord Nelson, c1848; a parian bust of the Duke of Wellington, marked 'Comte d'Orsay Sc. 1852', made in 1891; and right are 2 handpainted plates celebrating the laying of the Transatlantic Cable in 1866 - but that's another story...

21" Gravy dish, 'Wellington' pattern depicting 'Retreat of the French Army from Arroyo to Molinos'

Robert Copeland's paper was published in 'Country Life Magazine' in 1984. It was entitled 'Pursuing the Potters' Tribute: the Spode Wellington Service'. Items made in this design are known to have been exported via the Hudson's Bay Company to North America.

Extract from 'Country Life Magazine' 1984
There are other connections between Spode, Copeland and Wellington.

A bust of the Duke of Wellington was made by the Spode company in about 1824. About 24 cm high it was made from red earthenware, glazed and then coloured to look like bronze. The back had a special backstamp: 'Wellington Spode and Copeland, Fecit'.
Bust of Wellington, Spode and Copeland, c1824
Backstamp on the Spode and Copeland bust
A parian figure was also produced by the company around the time of the Duke's death in 1852 showing him seated. Parian figures were often produced as pairs. Not a matching pair but two associated subjects which were usually referred to as 'Companions'. The Spode company perhaps did not see the irony of choosing Napoleon as Wellington's companion on one occasion...
Seated figure of Wellington, parian, Copeland, c1852/3 (Copeland ref S195)
Seated figure of Napoleon, Companion to Wellington, parian, Copeland, 1853 (Copeland ref S113)
1873 trade catalogue featuring listing for Wellington and Napoleon
Other parian items were produced too. A statuette of the Duke of Wellington standing was made in about 1845 under the Copeland & Garrett ownership of the company (1833-1847). See Robert Copeland's book 'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' ref S193.

Later, in about 1848, under the Copeland ownership, a figure described as 'Duke of Wellington Equestrian Statue' was made although one has never been seen - so far...

Three parian busts were produced: one in 1846; and two in 1852 in different sizes. The bust in 1852 was from an original by Count D'Orsay. It is understood he had offered it to Minton's who had refused but Copeland accepted his terms.
Bust of the Duke of Wellington, parian, Copeland & Garrett, 1846 (Copeland ref B92a),

Bust of the Duke of Wellington, parian, Copeland, 1852 (Copeland ref B92),

'Pursuing the Potters' Tribute:  the Spode Wellington Service' by Robert Copeland, 'Country Life' published 1984

'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' by Robert Copeland (details on my booklist)

'Spode/Copeland Transfer Printed Patterns found at 20 Hudson's Bay company Sites Part of a series on Canadian Historic Sites' by Lynne Sussman (details on my booklist)