The Spode Company donated its massive archive of factory documents dating back as far as the 18th century, its pattern books, its store of engraved copperplates and its ceramics collection to the Spode Museum Trust which was established in 1987.
Many of the items in the ceramics collection were assembled by the Copeland family in the 1920s and the 1950s. Subsequent donations received from a number of sources have made it not only truly representative of the factory’s productions over the centuries, but also one of the largest and most important ceramics collections in the world.
This ceramics collection was formerly housed in buildings on the Spode factory site in Church Street, Stoke. Some of the earliest pieces, the finest bone china pieces and the early blue transfer printed wares were housed in two showrooms, forming a shop window for the Spode Company. Many very fine pieces were unable to be displayed due to lack of space. In 2009, when the factory closed, the entire collection was removed from the site and placed into storage.
The uniqueness of the Archive is due to a large extent that over two centuries successive Spode managements kept many documents and archive items that others might have thrown out. Copperplates and moulds were kept in case of possible re-use; conscious of the factory’s history and reputation, many everyday factory documents were kept for posterity rather than destroyed. This factor makes the history of Spode one of the best preserved of all factories.