Spode was established in 1776 in Stoke-on-Trent by Josiah Spode who wanted to set up on his own after years of working for other ceramic manufacturers. Spode is generally acknowledged as developing the first recipe for bone china. Experiments were taking place in the Spode factory from around 1796 to create fine white porcelain with a recipe containing high quantities of calcined ox-bone alongside china clay and stone; originally known as ‘Stoke China’ it was later renamed ‘Bone China’.

Josiah died suddenly in 1797 and his son, Josiah II continued his work, establishing the factory as the largest and one of the best porcelain manufacturers of the early 19th century ‘Golden Age’ of British ceramics. This included being appointed ‘Potter to the Prince of Wales’ in 1806.

As well as being recognized as creating the original bone china recipe, Spode is also highly acclaimed for the part they played in the development of transfer printing in its early days. Josiah II perfected the process of transfer printing onto earthenware, producing some of the finest blue-and-white designs ever made. Their most famous pattern is probably ‘Italian’, also known as ‘Blue Italian’ or ‘Spode’s Italian’.

The Italian pattern was first introduced in 1816 and is still produced today; it is believed to have appeared on as many as 700 different shapes across the Spode range. The origins of the classical scenes of the pattern are, unfortunately for collectors, unknown. Although many of Spode’s designs can be sourced back to pictorial scenes or prints of the time, the origins of the Italian pattern remain a mystery and despite research by many interested parties, no single Italian scene has ever been found that encompasses all the features of the pattern.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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Ceramic Decoration

Over time there has been a huge variety of techniques used to decorate all types of ceramics from earthenware pots to ornate sculptures. Some very traditional, while others revolutionary.

Developed by John Sadler and Guy Green, the transfer printing process began in Liverpool in 1756. Josiah Wedgwood being one of the first to embrace it on his ivory based “Creamware”. It was developed in response to consumer demand for cheaper, mass produced wares – something more embellished than the previously plain merely functional alternatives. Most early patterns had an oriental theme as Chinese blue was a favourite at the time.

Ceramics, more specifically porcelain, is commonly gilded. Gilding is where surfaces are decorated with gold leaf or fine powder before being fired at low temperatures. Mixing the gold with mercury gives a brighter metallic finish, while honey creates a dull but very rich effect.

Gilding has been around for centuries, as has the lustre technique which involves dissolving oxides of metals such as gold, silver and copper in acid and combining them with an oil medium. This is then painted onto the object before firing, it creates a metallic or iridescent shimmering finish.

As well as differences in the design techniques there are also different types of glazes. Underglaze is popular as it is less expensive; designs are applied to an unglazed surface so objects are only fired once. While an overglaze, as the name suggests, sees designs added onto an already glazed surface and re-fired at low temperatures to fuse the colours to the surface. They frequently require multiple firings making them much more expensive.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Moulded Jugs

A few years before Victoria came to the throne moulded jugs had developed into an art form. Almost every potter of the time began producing them and on the whole all followed each other as the moulded jug developed and changed throughout the century.

The jugs of the 1830s were moulded in a crisp and deep relief. Apart from a few angular exceptions the body was generally round. In terms of decoration, this was a period when designs and inspirations seemed limitless. Hunting scenes were popular, as were religious, mythological, historical and even drinking themes. But inspiration was also found in books, poems and art. In fact almost every aspect of Victorian life.

By the latter part of the 1840s the earlier distinctive pedestal foot had become a foot rim and the lip was a little less flared. The body was still essentially round and the relief had become shallower. The new trend in design was naturalistic plant life, with some jugs being completely covered, examples being the Cob of Corn jug and the Pine Cone jug.

By the 1860s the relief was very shallow and the naturalistic designs were replaced with stylised flowers and foliage. By the time, towards the end of the century, that the Art Nouveau style had arrived the moulded jug had largely had its day.

Made usually in earthenware, stoneware or Parian the moulded jug makes a lovely addition to any collection which is why they have always remained popular in the auction room.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website