Casual collectors, appraisers, museum curators and decorative arts aficionados can now browse through every known blue Spode pattern in a new interactive online exhibition of the famed English ceramic. In November, Delaware's Winterthur launched the Spode Exhibition Online (http://spodeceramics.com), an in-depth study and visual directory of the ever-popular blue printed wares produced in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This free and comprehensive resource covers the Staffordshire factory's history, pottery patterns and marks from about 1784 to 1833, and the industry that produced these highly collectible pieces.
Found in the kitchens of stately English homes and in archaeological recoveries from the quarters of American servants, blue transfer designs have had a universal and lasting appeal since Josiah Spode popularized this type of pottery in the late 1700s.
Josiah Spode Sr. and Jr., potters to the Royal Family, made an enormous impact on both Georgian society and ceramic production. The history section of the Spode Exhibiton Online tells of their unique blend of innovation, technical expertise and entrepreneurial skill which led to the two most significant achievements in English ceramics: underglaze blue printed earthenware and what soon became the standard English porcelain—bone china.
The central printed pottery database allows users to search every known Spode pattern and many shapes and colored versions as well as the source prints and original Chinese porcelain designs that served as inspiration for Spode’s designers.
Of special note is an interactive version of Spode’s 1820 Shape Book. Visitors will be able to virtually turn the pages of this rare document of which only two copies are known, one of them in the Winterthur Library. From about 1785 until the Spode family ceased potting in 1833, hundreds of blue printed patterns were introduced, themes and colors changed with the prevailing fashions, and published illustrations were used as pattern sources.
The project was spearheaded by the Transferware Collectors Club in collaboration with collectors and museums in the United States and England.