14 July 2017

Spode and Sunflower and Convolvulus

Sunflower pattern c1813 (detail)
Spode's Sunflower pattern is my favourite of all the Spode transfer printed designs. It is a gorgeous pattern of intertwining flowers and foliage. At first glance it could be mistaken for a design from the latter part of the 19th century* but is, in fact, a lot older. It dates from about 1813, possibly a little earlier.

The pattern was also referred to as Sunflower and Convolvulus; and, in the 1870s, there is a reference in the Spode archive of it being called Arcadia but I have rarely seen this name used elsewhere.

The beautiful convolvulus flower with its trailing stems was much-loved in various forms on Spode wares in the early 1800s, as well as fashionable to grow. However the name was dropped in the modern era as the plant was later regarded, by some, as an invasive, pernicious weed in the UK. Weeds were not felt suitable to market the reintroduced design in the late 1990s and the pattern is now usually known as simply Sunflower.
Dessert plate (detail), bone china, handpainted convolvulus, pattern 2789 c1819
The pattern was mainly produced in one colour - blue. It was printed underglaze usually on earthenware. The design is known as a 'sheet pattern' which requires only a few engravings to fit all shapes in a tableware, tea, dessert or toilet ware service as the design covers the whole surface of the object and doesn't have to be 'fitted'.
Roller printing Sunflower pattern in blue, (brown colour is cobalt blue before firing), no date, TCC image gallery
Tablewares were made in this pattern in the early 1800s including large serving pieces. The large dish with a removable drainer (illustrated) could be used without its drainer to serve a roasted meat joint, when the juices were required. To serve something boiled or steamed, such as a whole fish, when the juices were not required, then the drainer could be put in place and the unwanted juices would drain into the dish below.

The hole in the middle of the drainer is for a finger. This makes fitting the drainer into the dish, and removal from it, easy to do, particularly if it was a tight fit.
Earthenware dish & removable drainer Sunflower pattern c1813
Earthenware dish with its drainer removed Sunflower pattern c1813
Other versions of the pattern are recorded in the pattern books in the Spode archive but pieces of these variations are rare.

Pattern 1931 of about 1813 is particularly stunning with a gold background to the pattern. Thank you to Judie Siddall and her Dishy News blog for helping me with images of this version of the pattern.
Sunflower, pattern 1931 c1813 Transferware Collectors Club
3 pieces of Sunflower, pattern 1931 c1813(private collection)
My favourite version of the pattern is one I have never seen other than its record on paper in the pattern books. It has pattern number 1864 again of about 1813. So without a piece all I can do it describe it for you.

The design for pattern 1864 is unchanged and is printed underglaze in blue from the same engraved copper plate or roller as the plain version. But then the fun begins! The whole pattern is handpainted overglaze in vivid, natural colours.

The sunflowers are in a perfect deep, strong yellow with brown centres for their seeds; the convolvulus flowers are painted pale blue fading to white at their tips, with green for their yet-to-unfurl buds; the same green is used for all the leaves. What makes it so striking is that the background, (gold in pattern number 1931), in this multi-coloured version is red. If you see a piece you won't miss it. And if you see a piece - I need to know!

The stunning effect of adding handpainted colour to a blue printed Spode pattern can be seen in the illustration here of a pattern call Group. Filling in the 'white space' around a printed pattern, as in this case of Group, is known as clobbering. Experts disagree about the exact definition of this word in relation to ceramics but this is the one I was taught many years ago by a reliable source.
Plate, earthenware, printed & handpainted (clobbered), Group pattern 1589 c1811
Introduced around 1813 Sunflower pattern seems to have been made perhaps mostly in the early part of the 1800s but no exact details of it dates of production are recorded.

However, as part of The Spode Blue Room Collection it was reintroduced on earthenware in the 1990s. It had pattern number S3464 and was produced as tableware and giftware items. It was withdrawn in 2000.

Sunflower was also adapted as a border design in cobalt blue and gold for a bone china pattern called Brocade Cobalt. This was introduced in 1996 and had pattern number Y8603. It was made as large service plates only. It was not a commercial success.
Teapot, earthenware, 2000

Teapot backstamp 
Cups & saucers, earthenware c1990-2000
Cups & saucers backstamp c1990-2000
Dessert plate, bone china, pink with gilded edge c2000
Dessert plate backstamp
Dessert plate, bone china, pale blue with gilded edge c2000
Service plate (detail) bone china, Brocade Cobalt, pattern number Y8603 1996
Service plate backstamp
*For a good read about the sunflower motif in design (but unconnected to Spode) got to Jeckyll and the Sunflower which is on the blog Colonel Unthank's Norwich.

29 May 2017

Spode and London

Trade Card, 1825 British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings
Recently I was delighted to hear from Judy Rudoe of the British Museum who kindly let me know about a Spode trade card in the museum's collection. It was great to share information with each other about this little piece of paper. I intended  this post to be a short blog showing the trade card but it has grown a bit... it is surprising how much can be gleaned from a single trade card of 1825.

I have written about the Spode company's London business on this blog before, in a post about the company's showrooms. You can find it here: Spode and Showing Off. But there is more detail to discover about the London business with this trade card.

Josiah Spode II (1755-1827) set up Spode's London business in 1778. Josiah Spode II was the eldest son of the company's founder, Josiah Spode I (1733-1797).*
Josiah Spode II (1755-1827)
Spode's Portugal Street premises
If you look at the front of the trade card you can see that the London business is in Portugal Street to where it had moved in 1794. It had begun at 29 Fore Street - 'the chief shopping street in the northern part of the City [London] until the mid-19th century'.**

By the date of this card, 1825, the business was called 'Spode, Copeland & Son'. I found this very interesting because of the style of the company name. Who exactly are these individuals involved with Spode's London business?

'Spode' is Josiah Spode II (1755-1827).
In 1825 he was back in Stoke running the manufactory and his eldest son, William Spode, had been running the London business with William Copeland. However William Spode had retired in 1811 - a wealthy young man - and Spode II had taken over his son's role in the partnership with William Copeland in 1812. It is Copeland who would have had most of the responsibility in London whilst Josiah Spode II concentrated on Stoke.

'Copeland' is the William Copeland (1765-1826) mentioned above, who had worked, from a young age, for Spode II in London, from about 1784.
He probably began as a traveller or salesman in tea - a perfect link to pottery and porcelain. He rose through the business to eventually become a partner and to be a trusted friend of the Spodes. From a humble background, he too became wealthy from his hard work which had led to success and respect in the business. He was ambitious and wealthy enough to eventually purchase the Leyton estate.

'Son' is William Taylor Copeland (1797-1868) who was the son of William Copeland mentioned above. William Taylor Copeland was admitted into the London business in 1824.

William Copeland (the father) died in January 1826. Following this Spode II and William Taylor Copeland entered into partnership in April 1826.
William Copeland
So from these details it can be seen that the 'Spode, Copeland & Son' style for the London business had just a short date range as the company name from 1824 to 1826.

On the trade card you may also have noticed that the company is described as 'Porcelain, Earthenware and Glass Manufacturers'. Spode manufactured porcelain, now known as bone china, and earthenware but it is not thought they ever manufactured glass. This would have been bought in from a reputable manufacturer/supplier to sell on to their customers.

There is also the important fact that they were 'Porcelain, Earthenware and Glass Manufacturers TO THE KING'. Great marketing! This was HM George IV and the Spode company had also supplied him with wares of all sorts prior to his coronation whilst he was HRH Prince of Wales.
Reverse of the trade card British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings
The reverse of the trade card has been used as a receipt. It reads: 'Recd. July 9th 1825 of Mrs Chandos Leigh One pound five shillings as per Acct. for Spode etc £1.5.0 Wm Davey'.

I wonder what Spode goodies Mrs Chandos Leigh bought? Here are some of the wares which Spode produced in the 1820s which Mrs Chandos Leigh may have seen in London. They include designs for teawares (full size and miniature or 'toy'), dessert wares, dinner wares and ornamental wares.
Part toy teaset & tray, pattern 3157, c1821
Dessert tureen stand, Felspar porcelain, pattern 4130 c1825
 Incense Burner, bone china, pattern 3798, c1824
'New Shape French Jar', bone china, c1823
Dish, earthenware, Geranium pattern, transfer printed c1818
Jug, sprigged stoneware c1820
By 1833 William Taylor Copeland was the sole owner of the Spode company (the London business and the Stoke manufactory). The Spode family was no longer involved following the deaths of Josiah Spode II in 1827 and Josiah Spode III (his second son) in 1829. The Copeland family owned Spode longer than anybody else. You can also visit my page Who Owned Spode? for more information.
*Many people seem to merge all the Josiah Spodes plus Spode, the company, into one - it can get very confusing... and to me seems a little unfair on the individuals.

Of course in their lifetimes the several Josiah Spodes were never known by the suffixes I, II, III & IV. For example they were referred to as Spode the elder and Spode the younger. On the death of Spode the elder this suffix would shift...

Please see my blogpost A Confusion of Spodes for a little more clarification on the various Josiah Spodes.

**The London Encyclopaedia

Thanks as ever to Robert Copeland and  Peter Roden - see my booklist.

25 April 2017

Parian: 'The Bride' and 'The Mother'

Parian bust of 'The Bride' 1861
In the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge there is this wonderful photograph of a Copeland parian bust, 'The Bride', from their collection.

It is a stunning piece of ceramic manufacture in a body called parian. The fabric folds seem almost real. In about 1845, Copeland's parian, then a new ceramic body, was described by sculptor John Gibson RA (1790-1866) as 'Decidedly the best material next to Marble'.

'The Bride' is also illustrated in 'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' by Robert Copeland. There are several excellent books on parian ware but this has to be the go-to reference book about parian figures from the Spode factory. In it Robert Copeland explains that 'the original marble sculpture of this subject [The Bride] was executed by Raffaele Monti for the Duke of Devonshire and was known as the 'Statue Voilee'. Monti's figure also seems to be known by many other names on the web...
'Statue Voilee' by Raffaele Monti now at Chatsworth House 
On October 11th 1860 Alderman W. T. Copeland, then owner of the Spode company, paid Monti £10 for 'a model of a small veiled head representing The Bride, and the copyright of it'.

In 1871 another parian bust was made called 'The Mother'. This was also from an original marble sculpture by Raffaele Monti (1818–1881). It is interesting to see that negotiation was made directly with the well-known and revered sculptors for various parian figures from W. T. Copeland. Papers relating to the arrangements are in the Spode archive.

'The Mother' was sold as a companion to 'The Bride' - not a matching pair but two associated subjects usually referred to as 'Companions'.
Parian bust of 'The Mother' c1871 in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Parian bust of 'The Mother' from Copeland's book
Cover to Robert Copeland's excellent book on parian
Frontispiece of my copy of the book with Copeland's lovely dedication