04 September 2011

More on Dating Spode Pieces in the early 1800s

The statistics for these pages show that most people visit to find out about dating pieces and to understand about backstamps (company marks). You can revisit the first blog on this subject on 6 Jan 2011 Dating Your Spode Pieces to find information about dating pieces with examples of Spode backstamps. There are hundreds of recorded backstamps  on Spode wares in the history of the company so I will add occasional information about different ones. The best book for Spode backstamps is detailed at the end of this blog. 

The image top left shows the backstamp from a plate decorated in Portland Vase pattern printed in green. It shows a printed mark (in the same green as the pattern is printed in) as well as an impressed mark.

The impressed mark was stamped into the clay by hand when the plate was first made prior to it being fired when the clay was still malleable. At this period in ceramic manufacture blank, undecorated pieces once fired could be stored for some time before they went on to be decorated. In this particular case there was a company name change between the manufacture of the blank undecorated piece, marked with the Spode name, and the decoration of the piece when it had received its first (biscuit) firing!

This is how to put together the backstamp and pattern information to date this piece. Spode marks in various forms were used up to the change of ownership to Copeland and Garrett in 1833. The Copeland and Garrett partnership dates from 1833 to 1847. The Portland Vase pattern was introduced in about 1832. So the Copeland and Garrett mark must be post 1833 but having the Spode mark too suggests a date at the beginning of the partnership of c1833, rather than later, which also fits with the date of introduction of the pattern.

To the left is another Copeland & Garrett backstamp. This time printed underglaze in a blue-green and dating from c1838 to 1847. The pattern number 7487 is handpainted in red onglaze. This pattern number was first recorded in the Spode pattern books in about 1846 so with the two marks together the piece can be dated to c1846-1847. The other impressed mark like an O is probably a workman's mark and can tell us no more.

Note that dating can rarely be accurate and most dates given will usually be prefixed with the word about or the symbol c.

Backstamps can sometimes be very difficult to decipher as can just be seen in the image bottom left which shows a printed mark on a piece of Copeland and Garrett agate ware. Generally until well into the 20th century all marks were applied by hand whether printed, handpainted, impressed or embossed and human error can creep in. Wrong numbers can be painted on for the pattern number in a moment of absentmindedness; the S of Spode can be omitted in error from a printed mark giving a maker of PODE!  (A poorly applied Spode mark can be seen bottom right - this also shows a printed workman's mark some of which are detailed in the book mentioned below.) And the angle of the tool for an impressed mark held too acute so part of the mark can be missing. This all adds to the fun of detective work when reading the backstamp on Spode wares. 
Spode & Copeland Marks and Other Relevant Intelligence by Robert Copeland; published by Studio Vista; 1993, 1997 (2nd edition revised and enlarged);  ISBN 0-289-80172-9

Also have a look at my page How Old Is My Spode?


  1. Hi, I have spode pieces with a hand painted red spode mark with the numbers 2435 on each piece. The pieces have black transferware (I think) and about an inch of gold filigree on the inner rim of each. The pieces vary from men or boys on open fields to women with their children, to beautiful women playing instruments or just picking fruit from a tree... With a number like 2435, do you think that this is most likely 19th century rather than 18th century?

    1. Unfortunately, as I no longer work for the Spode Museum Trust, I am unable to answer enquiries as these usually need to be carefully researched in the Spode archive.
      But the good news is you can contact the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives to follow up this enquiry about your pattern 2435. Please use the link on the panel top right entitled 'The Spode Archive - Research & Questions'.
      To help the archive service please send them images (and/or scans) of all the marks as well as an image of the piece so the pattern and shape can be seen

  2. Just amazing! In Argentina we find them too: http://www.enelmardelsur.blogspot.com.ar/2012/03/centinela-del-mars-porcelain-begins-to.html


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.