27 December 2017

Spode and a Cress Dish

Cress dish & stand, c1805
This Spode item is very specific. It is a footed cress dish and stand. This would have been used to serve watercress in the early 1800s.

Made in a fine earthenware body called creamware, the design is an elegant, classical, repeat border pattern in pinkish red and black - all of which is handpainted.

The design was recorded as pattern number 687 and dates from about 1805.

I love the shape as well as the very lovely pattern of what is simply an arrangement of drain holes. This allowed any water to run off from the freshly-washed watercress. The little claw feet on the dish raised it above its stand so it does not sit in a puddle.
Detail of piercing
The cutting of the holes is done by a technique known as piercing where the intricate pattern of holes was cut by hand. You can find out a lot more about the technique by visiting my Spode ABC - click/tap HERE>.

08 December 2017

Spode and Marketing Christmas in the USA

Leaflet, front, 'Christmas Tree' pattern for the USA 1990s
Spode's famous and iconic pattern 'Christmas Tree' was first produced in 1938. In the USA it was an instant success and was very important commercially for the Spode company. You can find out a lot about this popular pattern, its history and its design variations from the links on my dedicated 'Spode & Christmas' page.
Cup & saucer, 'Christmas Tree' 1986
Spode, under all its ownerships, was excellent at marketing its products. On my blog this year for Christmas, I thought 'Christmas Tree' collectors in particular, would like to see some sales and marketing literature for the pattern. The biggest sales of this seasonal design were to the USA. The pattern was produced all year round at the Spode factory in Stoke ready for the culmination of what in the USA is called the holiday season.

So with thanks to Paul Hanson of Philadelphia, here are some leaflets (or brochures) produced specifically to market 'Christmas Tree' pattern in the USA in the late 20th century.
Leaflet, inside, part of the huge range...
... and there's still more on the fold-out page
Leaflet, inside back cover and back, 1990s
Leaflet, back, with address detail, 1990s
This leaflet from the 1990s shows that it was for the USA market with details of Spode's USA business - 'Royal China & Porcelain Companies Inc.'- often referred to at Spode as RCPC.

68 choices of items are listed in the 1990s leaflet. Not all items were made by Spode. From 1938 up to the early 2000s, whilst 'Christmas Tree' ceramics were mostly made at the Spode factory in Stoke, England, some were not. These included many of the Christmas tree ornaments and 'three-dimensional gifts'. Glassware, textiles and cutlery parts were also made elsewhere, sometimes outside the UK.

In the bottom right hand corner of the back of the 1990s leaflet is a reference number beginning with MNC. This stands for Morris Nicholson & Cartwright, a specialist agency engaged by Spode to produce marketing literature from about 1984 to 1996. In 2005, whilst I was Curator at the Spode museum, Stephen Morris of MNC kindly donated the MNC papers, relating to their Spode work, to the museum. Their papers are now in the Spode archive.
Leaflet, front, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA c1989
A leaflet probably from about 1989 uses the Spode slogan 'Only Spode is Spode' whereas the 1990s leaflet, shown at the top, has the later slogan 'Invest in the Original'. The clue to late 1989 dating is in the marketing blurb at the bottom of the leaflet: 'The Gift of a Family Tradition for Over Fifty Years' so it has to be 1988 or later. Here is some more of the leaflet:


Leaflet, back, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA c1989
with 'three-dimensional gifts' illustrated.
And here is another leaflet this time from the 1970s/1980s:
Leaflet, front, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA 1970s/1980s
Leaflet, back, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA 1970s/1980
And some pages from the inside: