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The Business: The End of an Era

By 1830, Spode bone china vases, inkstands, and scent jars decorated the most elegant houses, bone china tea and dessert services graced the most fashionable dining tables of England, and blue printed earthenware dinner services were a staple of any self-respecting house.

The Chinese-style blue printed patterns such as Buffalo and Mandarin of the 1780s, Willow and  Forest Landscape of the 1790s gradually gave way to new fashions.  In 1806  Spode introduced both Bamboo and Greek patterns. By the 1810s western topographical views  were also  popular – Rome appeared  in 1811,  Indian Sporting by 1815 and Blue Italian in 1816. Pottery fashions constantly change.  Many of those new designs last only a few years, but several of the patterns Josiah Spode I and II introduced remained popular into the present century.

The factory continued as old and respected partners bought the company when the Spode family no longer had male heirs of sufficient age to take on the responsibility.  William Copeland joined the Spode London warehouse in 1784 and had been mentor to William Spode before he retired from business in 1811.  At that time Copeland became the major partner in London business with a 75 percent share, the remaining 25 percent stayed with Josiah Spode II. When William Copeland died in 1826, his son William Taylor Copeland entered the partnership.  Josiah Spode II died in the following year, leaving no Spode sons of age to enter the business.  W. T. Copeland recruited Thomas Garret, one of the firm’s respected and experienced travellers, and in 1833 they acquired the whole business of making and selling ceramics. A member of the Copeland family was involved in the Spode business from 1784 and continued to be part of the factory in subsequent partnerships and company takeovers.  We are honoured to have the support of Robert Copeland in producing this exhibition and dedicate it to him in fond memory.

Click to watch Robert Copeland talk about firing a bottle oven