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Bone up on best Porcelain pieces.

Byline: DON RODGERS

The Spode works in Stoke-on-Trent is one of Britain's best known and most successful producers of ceramics.

It was founded by Josiah Spode in the 1770s. His efforts were directed initially into blue underglaze printing on earthenware, which he had perfected by 1784.

The blue and white soup plate shown here is an early example, dating to around 1800, decorated with a design known as the Fitzhugh pattern. This pattern was originally hand-painted in China in the 18th century for the Fitzhugh family, possibly for Thomas Fitzhugh who lived near Wrexham, and was then produced by r

The quality of the print is superb and the plate is also finely potted.

While this piece is made of a white earthenware usually known as pearlware, Spode is perhaps best remembered for developing the bone china body we all now take for granted.

It sometimes surprises people that bone china actually contains bone. In fact, Spode wasn't the first factory to use bone ash in the manufacture of porcelain - others had used it as part of their soft-paste formula in the 18th century - but Spode is credited with its first use in the hard-paste porcelain mix that was to become the bone china we are familiar with today.

The shell-shaped dish is an early example of this china, hand-painted in a colourful design influenced by Japanese Imari porcelain. It would have been part of a dessert service, lavish dessert wares being extremely popular in the 19th century.

The porcelain itself is much less translucent than later examples and both feels and looks rather like 18th century English soft-paste porcelain.

It wasn't long after this dish was made that Josiah Spode II produced a refined variety of bone china known as Felspar Porcelain, following the discovery of a source of felspar on the Wales-Shropshire border in 1819.

The shell-shaped dish has both positive and negative points. The negatives centre on its condition: it has undergone minor restoration in the past and lacks much of its gilding.

On the positive side, it's a very scarce pattern that even in this condition would be worth pounds 40-pounds 60 to a Spode collector. I paid pounds 30 for it from a Carmarthen Antiques Fair.

The Fitzhugh plate cost a mere pounds 5 from an antiques fair in Builth Wells. As a nice early example, it's worth pounds 20-pounds 30.

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Spode ceramics are a treasure for many collectors around the world
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 5, 2011
Words:409
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