Spode Papers

Scope and Content

This accumulation includes the original articles of partnership signed by Josiah Spode and William Copeland in 1813, as well as important series of account books, catalogues, recipies, price lists, volumes of technical data and photographs. These form a valuable primary resource for students of ceramics, design and industrial history. Major subjects covered by the Spode papers include collieries, costing, employees, exhibitions, experiments, exports, production and wares. The collection also includes papers relating to the firm W.T. Copeland and Sons.

Administrative / Biographical History

In the early 1760s, Josiah Spode, (1733 - 1797) who as a six-year old had watched his father buried in a pauper's grave, opened his own small pottery. In the space of the next thirty years he was to make a unique contribution to ceramic art, and found a tradition of excellence that continues to this day. In 1784, Josiah Spode perfected the process of blue underglaze printing on earthenware, which, was the essential catalyst for the phenomenal development of English tableware that was to follow. He then went on to make the single most important discovery in the history of his industry - the formula for Fine Bone China - which was to make the name, 'Spode', famous throughout the world. In 1791, Spode's son Josiah Spode (1755 - 1827) took over the running of the business, he was succeeded by his son Josiah Spode (1777 - 1829) in 1827. He was the last Spode family member to be involved in the running of the company as it was sold in 1833.

Reference: The History of Spode (http://www.spode.co.uk/). Accessed November 2001.


The papers are not arranged and were listed as found.

Conditions Governing Access

To view the papers deposited at Keele, please apply to Chris Latimer, City Archivist, Stoke-on-Trent City Archives, City Central Library, Bethesda St, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3RS, stoke.archives@stoke.gov.uk

Due to major changes at Spode, the enquiry and research service formerly offered by the Spode Museum Trust is unfortunately no longer available.

The Spode Museum Trust, a non-profit making charity, has had no staff in place since April 2008. The Spode Museum Trust's Archive has been kindly accepted by and deposited with The Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service and is held at Stoke on Trent City Archives. Information on location and opening times can be found on the Staffordshire Archive Service homepage www.staffordshire.gov.uk/archives.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in 1973 by Spode Ltd.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is listed. There is also a subject index, and item level list of documents. Finding aids may be consulted in Special Collections and Archives at Keele University, and at the National Register of Archives in London.

An authority record exists for Spode Ltd (GB 152 AAR1993).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.


Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

Other collections held at Special Collections and Archives, Keele University and relating to the Potteries include the Warrillow Collection (GB 0172 WARR).


Works using the material

Reference: Peake, T.H., William Brownfield and Son(s) 1837-1900 A Most Prolific Staffordshire Pottery. An Illustrated Guide to Brownfield Wares, 1837-1900 (T. H. Peake, 1995).

Reference: Roden, P., 'Josiah Spode 1933-1979: His Formative Influences and the Various Potworks Associated with him', Northern Ceramic Society Journal (Vol 14, 1997).

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