08 December 2017

Spode and Marketing Christmas in the USA

Leaflet, front, 'Christmas Tree' pattern for the USA 1990s
Spode's famous and iconic pattern 'Christmas Tree' was first produced in 1938. In the USA it was an instant success and was very important commercially for the Spode company. You can find out a lot about this popular pattern, its history and its design variations from the links on my dedicated 'Spode & Christmas' page.
Cup & saucer, 'Christmas Tree' 1986
Spode, under all its ownerships, was excellent at marketing its products. On my blog this year for Christmas, I thought 'Christmas Tree' collectors in particular, would like to see some sales and marketing literature for the pattern. The biggest sales of this seasonal design were to the USA. The pattern was produced all year round at the Spode factory in Stoke ready for the culmination of what in the USA is called the holiday season.

So with thanks to Paul Hanson of Philadelphia, here are some leaflets (or brochures) produced specifically to market 'Christmas Tree' pattern in the USA in the late 20th century.
Leaflet, inside, part of the huge range...
... and there's still more on the fold-out page
Leaflet, inside back cover and back, 1990s
Leaflet, back, with address detail, 1990s
This leaflet from the 1990s shows that it was for the USA market with details of Spode's USA business - 'Royal China & Porcelain Companies Inc.'- often referred to at Spode as RCPC.

68 choices of items are listed in the 1990s leaflet. Not all items were made by Spode. From 1938 up to the early 2000s, whilst 'Christmas Tree' ceramics were mostly made at the Spode factory in Stoke, England, some were not. These included many of the Christmas tree ornaments and 'three-dimensional gifts'. Glassware, textiles and cutlery parts were also made elsewhere, sometimes outside the UK.

In the bottom right hand corner of the back of the 1990s leaflet is a reference number beginning with MNC. This stands for Morris Nicholson & Cartwright, a specialist agency engaged by Spode to produce marketing literature from about 1984 to 1996. In 2005, whilst I was Curator at the Spode museum, Stephen Morris of MNC kindly donated the MNC papers, relating to their Spode work, to the museum. Their papers are now in the Spode archive.
Leaflet, front, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA c1989
A leaflet probably from about 1989 uses the Spode slogan 'Only Spode is Spode' whereas the 1990s leaflet, shown at the top, has the later slogan 'Invest in the Original'. The clue to late 1989 dating is in the marketing blurb at the bottom of the leaflet: 'The Gift of a Family Tradition for Over Fifty Years' so it has to be 1988 or later. Here is some more of the leaflet:

Leaflet, back, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA c1989
with 'three-dimensional gifts' illustrated.
And here is another leaflet this time from the 1970s/1980s:
Leaflet, front, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA 1970s/1980s
Leaflet, back, for 'Christmas Tree' pattern for USA 1970s/1980
And some pages from the inside:

21 November 2017

Spode and Bang Up Pattern... or the pattern with a funny name

Soup plate, stone china, 'Bang Up' pattern 2886 c1820 (Lovers of Blue & White)
Here's an oriental pattern from Spode with an odd name. Sometimes it is easy to find a reason for a pattern name, or at least to take a stab at why it was called what it was, but this one is still a bit of a mystery.

'Bang Up' pattern was first introduced by Spode in about 1820. It was recorded with pattern number 2886 and, like most records in the pattern books, no name was mentioned with the paper entry. The pattern is oriental in style but, unlike other Spode patterns of the early 1800s, a Chinese porcelain original is not known. The origin of the name remains puzzling.

The pattern was usually printed and then handcoloured. Some versions had added gilding.

Comport, stone china, 'Bang Up' pattern 2886 c1820
Comport, looking down. Note how the central design in the panel is adapted to follow the shape
'Bang Up' proved to be a very popular and successful pattern for Spode and several versions of it were produced over the next 100 years or so. It would seem the pattern is known by the name 'Bang Up' whether it has the panel around the central spray of flowers with a bead at the edge as in pattern 2886; or if these are omitted as in other versions such as patterns 3504 and 3690.
Soup plate, stone china, pattern 3504 c1823
Pattern 3690 is a combination of two Spode patterns - it has the 'Bang Up' centre and 'Ship' border.
Soup plate, stone china, 'Bang Up' pattern 3690 c1823 (Lovers of Blue & White)
Interestingly the design enjoyed a revival in the late 1800s and again in the 1930s. Some of these later versions are mentioned below.

Pattern 2/4074 was introduced in about 1895. It was similar in design to 'Bang Up' with pattern number 3504 of about 1823 but was produced on earthenware on 'Gadroon' shape. This version was available until about 1960.
Dish (meat dish/platter), earthenware, 'Gadroon' shape, 'Bang Up' pattern 2/4074

Backstamp on dish, pattern 2/4074
Pattern S2374 on earthenware on 'Camilla' shape was introduced in about 1938. The body had a 'Royal Jasmine' glaze. It was printed in blue, hand coloured onglaze. The 1938 catalogue, whilst still unsure of the name, includes a seemingly randomly chosen date for the pattern of 1808. Its marketing blurb includes:

'Here, in an oddly named design, the artist has evolved in truly Eastern style a glorious medley of conventional flowers, bright and gay, to please the most fastidious taste of any period.'
'Bang Up' earthenware, pattern S2374, 1938
Pattern W6 was introduced in 1939. It was on fine stone - a more modern name for Spode's stone china. It was again similar to pattern 3504.

Sometimes the border of the pattern was used alone with a badge or coat of arms replacing the central panel. The panel shape was also used in pattern number 2/6750 introduced in about 1915 but with a completely different design in the centre.