Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Spode, Josiah

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SPODE, JOSIAH (1754–1827), potter, was born at Stoke-upon-Trent in 1754. His father, Josiah Spode (1733–1797), worked as a potter with Thomas Whieldon from 1749 to 1754, when he commenced manufacturing on his own account. The younger Josiah learnt the trade in his father's workshops, and is said to have introduced transfer printing into Stoke. He specially favoured the blue-printed ware, particularly the willow pattern, and much improved the jasper, cream, and black Egyptian ware. Spode's ware was soon made generally known through the agency of William Copeland, a traveller in the tea trade, who undertook to sell it to his customers on commission. The demand grew so rapidly that Spode, with Copeland's cooperation, opened a warehouse in Fore Street, Cripplegate, London. The trade steadily increased, and larger premises at 37 Lincoln's Inn Fields, the site of which was formerly occupied by the Duke's Theatre, were purchased by Spode and Copeland in 1779.

In 1796 the net profits of the firm exceeded 13,000l. On his father's death in the following year Josiah returned to Stoke, after making Copeland a partner and entrusting the London warehouse to his care. In 1800 Spode commenced to manufacture porcelain, and introduced bones into the paste as well as felspar, which increased the transparency and beauty of the ware. The present method of ornamenting porcelain in raised unburnished gold was first introduced by him in 1802. In 1805 he also made a fine ware called opaque porcelain. ‘He and other manufacturers inundated France with this description of ware under the name of ironstone china. It almost entirely superseded their fayence owing to its superior durability’ (Chaffers). The Prince of Wales visited Spode's manufactory in 1806, and he was appointed potter to the king. In 1812 he erected a large steam engine on his works, and made many important improvements.

Spode built for himself a very fine house at Penkhull, Staffordshire, called The Mount, and thither he and his family removed in 1804. He died there on 16 July 1827, aged 73. At the age of nineteen he married Miss Barker, daughter of a pottery manufacturer, by whom he had a son Josiah. His partner, William Copeland, predeceased him in 1826, being succeeded by his son, William Taylor Copeland [q. v.], into whose hands the whole business eventually passed through the death of Spode's son Josiah, on 6 Oct. 1827. Spode was the most successful china manufacturer of his time, and left a large fortune.

[Chaffers's Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain, 7th ed. 1891; Jewitt's Ceramic Art of Great Britain, 1883; Annual Register for 1827; Prof. Church's English Earthenware, 1884; Gent. Mag. 1827 ii. 470, 1829 ii. 568.]

E. L. R.