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Josiah Spode I effectively finalized the formula, and appears to have been doing so between 1789 and 1793. It remained an industrial secret for some time. The importance of his innovations has been disputed, being played down by Professor Sir Arthur Church in his English Porcelain, estimated practically by William Burton, and being very highly esteemed by Spode's contemporary Alexandre Brongniart, director of the Sèvres manufactory, in his Trait des Arts Ceramiques, and by M. L. Solon hailed as a revolutionary improvement.
Many fine examples of the elder Spode's productions were destroyed in a fire at Alexandra Palace, London in 1873, where they were included in an exhibition of nearly five thousand specimens of English pottery and porcelain. As the understanding of the work of the early potters depends in part on the study of actual specimens, the loss was both aesthetic and scientific.
The business was carried on through his sons at Stoke until April 1833. Spode's London retail shop in Portugal Street went by the name of Spode, Son, and Copeland. Among the many surviving Spode documents are two shape books dated to about 1820 which contain thumbnail sketches of bone china objects with instructions to throwers and turners about size requirements. One copy is in the Joseph Downes collection at Winterthur Museum, Gardens, and Library, Delware, USA.
After some early trials Spode perfected a stoneware that came closer to porcelain than any previously, and introduced his "Stone-China" in 1813. It was light in body, grayish-white and gritty where it was not glazed and approached translucence in the early wares; later Stone-Ware became opaque. Spode pattern books, which record about 75000 patterns, survive from about 1800. In Spode's similar "Felspar porcelain", introduced on the market in 1821, felspar was an ingredient, substituted for the Cornish stone in his standard bone china body, giving rise to his slightly misleading name "Felspar porcelain," to what is in fact an extremely refined stoneware comparable to the rival "Mason's ironstone", produced by Josiah II's nephew, Charles James Mason, and patented in 1813 Spode's "Felspar porcelain" continued into the Copeland & Garrett phase of the company (1833-1847). Armorial services were provided for the Honourable East India Company, 1823, and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, c1824. Some of the ware employed underglaze blue and iron red with touches of gilding in imitation of "Imari porcelain" that had been introduced on Spode's bone china in the first decade of the century: the most familiar "Tobacco-leaf pattern" (2061) continued to be made by Spode's successors, William Taylor Copeland, and then "W.T. Copeland & Sons, late Spode".
Messrs Spode were succeeded in the same business in c. 1833 by Copeland and Garrett, who often used the name Spode in their marks. In particular these are called 'Late Spode' and include productions of the so-called 'Felspar porcelain'. They also produced other kinds of bone china, earthenware, parian, etc. The partnership continued in this form until 1847. After 1847 the business continued until 1970 as W.T. Copeland and sons, and again the term 'Spode' or 'Late Spode' continued in use alongside the name of Copeland. Under the name 'Spode Ltd' the same factories and business was continued after 1970. In 2006, the business merged with Royal Worcester. The merged company entered administration on 6 November 2008. The brand names and intellectual property were required by Portmeirion Group on 23 April 2009.
On 23 April 2009 Portmeirion Pottery purchased the rival Royal Worcester and Spode brands, together with some of the stock, after their parent company had been placed into administration the previous November. The purchase did not include Royal Worcester or Spode's manufacturing facilities. Many items in Spode's Blue Italian and Woodland ranges are now made at Portmeirion Group's factory in Stoke-on-Trent