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  • Place of origin:

    Stoke-on-Trent (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Spode Ceramic Works (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, transfer-printed in underglaze blue

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss E. J. Hipkins

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 6

Object Type
Willow-pattern plates like this example could, at first glance, have been made yesterday. However, when this plate is handled, the thinness of the potting and the intense inky blue of the print reveal an early date, probably the first decade of the 19th century. Blue and white earthenware plates of this sort could be found throughout Britain at that time. Soon they would be flooding the markets of Europe.

Improvements in fashionable table manners at the end of the 18th century, including the development of British dinner services, soon filtered down to the middle classes and below. To satisfy this new demand, cheap printed earthenware was invented. This new product made the fortune of pioneer manufacturers like the Spode family, who were able completely to sever their association with the pottery industry in 1833.

Blue and white printed pottery rapidly became the major export of the potteries in Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Scotland and elsewhere. Of all the thousands of patterns, it was one of the earliest, the Willow Pattern, which came to symbolise the whole class of pottery. Later, an elaborate romantic story was invented to explain the figures and birds in the pattern. Potters emigrated to other countries, taking with them moulds and engraved copper plates, to make British-style pottery in competition with British manufacturers.

Place of Origin

Stoke-on-Trent (made)


1800-1820 (made)


Spode Ceramic Works (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, transfer-printed in underglaze blue

Marks and inscriptions

Impressed mark 'SPODE'


Diameter: 22.86 cm

Object history note

Made at the Spode factory, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

Plate, transfer-printed in blue, Willow pattern, Spode, Stoke-on-Trent, 1800-20

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This was the most common version of the Willow pattern, the most famous of the British printed designs for earthenware. It was invented by British manufacturers, but inspired by the designs found on blue and white Chinese ceramics . [27/03/2003]
Made at the factory of Josiah Spode, Stoke-on-Trent, about 1820
Mark: 'SPODE', impressed, and a cross in blue
Lead-glazed earthenware

C.847-1925 Given by Miss E.J. Hipkins [23/05/2008]




Ceramics Collection

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