BRIEF HISTORY OF SPODE

Chinese Rose Pattern, Camilla Shape in earthenware. One of the most popular designs of the 20th century. The centre design is derived from the ‘India’ pattern with oriental influence evident in the
border pattern. c.1930 to 2007

Fleur De Lys Gold c.1968

The Iona plate based on the Book of Kells was designed by Christopher Boulton in 1963 and engraved by Frank Boothby.  It was the only plate of the seven Celtic plate designs to be both printed and painted and was a best seller.

Spode produced this bona china plate in 1971 to commemorate 2500 years of the Persian monarchy.  A limited edition of 10,000 were produced symbolising the contemporary Iranian Empire and the origins of the Empire by a border inspired by Archaemenian art.  The ground colour, turquoise, is Persia’s imperial colour.

Queen’s Silver Jubilee Commemorative Tankard produced in 1977

The Second Spode Period 1966-2008

From 1966, the company underwent a number of changes of ownership, during which the business was merged with Royal Worcester.

The final decades of the 20th Century saw immense changes in the methods of decorating ceramics in all factories. These made obsolete many of the traditional techniques, which Spode had been at the forefront of developing in earlier times. The highly skilled but slow and costly process of engraving could be replaced by computerised design, which produced output almost indistinguishable from the earlier engraved designs; Developments in lithographic printing for ceramics meant that full-colour images could be transferred onto wares and fired at a single firing. The effect of this was in some important respects the de-skilling of the manufacturing process and the commoditisation of output.

Spode maintained small pockets of its traditional skills right to the end, including engraving and hand painting onto chinawares - indeed some of the famous Royal Worcester flower and fruit patterns were hand-painted by Spode artists at Stoke. It also introduced many high-quality commemorative series, such as English Cathedrals and Military Regiments, which were recognised as design masterpieces, as well as classic patterns such as Stafford Flowers, Trapnell Sprays and Woodland, and the Blue Room collection, reproductions of blue-printed designs from the Nineteenth Century.

From 2007 much of Spode’s manufacture was outsourced to the Far East, not always to the delight of Spode’s customers, and after some 230 years of continuous operation – possibly the longest for any factory in Britain – the historic Spode works closed in 2008. Fortunately, the business was subsequently acquired by Portmeirion Group plc, who have returned much Spode production to their own works just a couple of hundred yards from Josiah Spode’s original factory. Spode products, some of whose designs date back 200 years, are now once again made in Britain, in Stoke, and to the same quality as before.

Bow-handled bucket in Bone China

Spode introduced Stafford Flowers pattern in 1986 featuring flowers from Curtis's Botanical Magazine.

British Birds Series, Wren.  One of six studies of Garden Birds by Harold Holdway c.1976.  The other plates in the series featured a Blue Tit, Green Finch, Robin, Thrush and Chaffinch.