Page from an early Spode Badge book c.1830. Spode made thousands of services for customers who wanted their own coat of arms on their tablewares, and this book alone shows heraldic devices for, inter alia, the Emperor of Brazil, Magdalene College Cambridge, the East India Company, the Mercers’ Company, Countess Newbourgh and numerous army regiments.
This page shows the devices Spode painted on services for the King of Persia, the Goldsmiths Company in the City of London and an unidentified customer. Also shown below for comparison, is a plate c.1830 in the Museum’s collection from the Goldsmiths Company service.
THE SPODE COLLECTION
Other Archive Material
This collection includes some 250,000 manuscripts, letters, invoices, and tools relating not only to Spode but also to various other aspects of ceramic making in Staffordshire. There are many photographs dating back to the end of the nineteenth century and film footage throughout the twentieth of people and processes at the factory. Many factory workers, now long dead, can be named, and their descendents traced.
The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala written by James Bateman; published by J. Ridgway and Sons, London (1837 —1843) One of only 125 copies and now fully conserved.
A receipt dated 19th December 1798 for two quarters tax due at Michaelmas
paid by Josiah Spode as follows: House and Windows £7-1s-0d; Inhabited House £3-2s-6d; Dogs 9/- and Stamp 2d. Total £10-12s-8d.
A curiosity dating from the 1830s – a wooden trunk inscribed “Copeland & Garrett Stoke upon Trent” before it was vandalised, probably around 1847.
Thomas Garrett was for 14 years a partner of William Taylor Copeland’s and wares manufactured between 1833 and 1847 bore the “Copeland and Garrett” mark.
Very little is known about him and he seems to have made little mark on the company. The vehemence with which his name has been obliterated might be suggestive.
Above an early set of leather bound volumes of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, first published in 1797. Curtis’s engraved illustrations were copied on many of Spode’s patterns, in particular on the finely painted botanical china dessert services of Josiah ll’s time
Remnants of a gold mill used until the 1960s. One of two in the Museum’s collection, this broken one is able to show the interior of the mill, with gold residues still visible on its surface.
“Best Gold”, an amalgam of brown gold and mercury, was used in the decoration of fine porcelain. Because of its high value, the Gold Room at Spode was always locked and only a director of the company was allowed to weigh the gold, mercury and gold flux ready for milling.
In the mill, the amalgam was ground in water with a heavy pestle for two weeks then dried. It was mixed with turpentine and fat oil for use. The Trust has photographs of the grinding process with Tom Brough, foreman gilder, at work in the 1950s.
A very small selection from a large quantity of pitcher profile tools in the Spode Collection, many of which date back to around 1800, and some of which have bear the names or initials of the workers who used them. These ‘profiles’ were hand held tools used to form and shape the foot ring and the back of plates. The selection above includes impressed marks for Spode, Copeland & Garrett and Copeland.