Q: I have had this little pitcher for about 20 years and I would love to know more about it. It looks like it says “Copeland” on the bottom, but I am not sure. Could you please give me some information?
A: The photographs of the marks we received were so blurry and taken at such an angle that we could not read them. But since B.D. reads the mark as “Copeland,” we will accept that the piece is so marked and is a product of W. T. Copeland & Sons Ltd, which worked in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
The story really begins with the Copeland and Garrett partnership that was formed in 1833. They were the successors to the famous manufacturer known as “Spode,” which was founded in 1797 by Josiah Spode II.
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The Spode family had been in the pottery business since about 1761. When Spode went out of business in 1833, their pottery facilities passed to Copeland and Garrett, and the phrase “Late Spode” would appear on Copeland and Garrett’s products. In addition, the designation “Spode” can be found as part of some of the marks found on W. T. Copeland’s wares when he split from Copeland and Garrett in 1847, and in 1970, W. T Copeland and Sons Ltd changed its name to Spode Ltd.
The Copeland company made both pottery and porcelain, but they were and are famous for their richly gilded and decorated wares. They also made Parian wares, which are unglazed, once-fired white porcelain pieces made to look like real Parian marble.
There was a time in the early 20th century when figural cream pitchers were the rage. Most were made in Germany, and the most collected are probably those made by the Royal Bayreuth Company, which is located in Tettau, Germany. The village is in the Thuringian Forest, and founded in 1784, it is the oldest ceramics factory in Bavaria.
The figural cream (and larger) pitchers included an eclectic array of varieties including tomatoes, lobsters, Santa Clauses, owls, dogs, sunflowers, clowns, beautiful women, pigs, snakes, penguins, trout, mice, roosters, parrots, butterflies and many, many more. Other companies followed suit, and this figural Chinaman example is more in the Staffordshire tradition and is very high quality and nicely decorated with its lovely molding and green and gold color scheme.
Not being able to see the mark, we felt the piece is probably from the 1920s because of its thematic matter and its color scheme. But, it could also be as late as the 1950s for much the same reasons.
We have been referring to the piece as a cream pitcher because B. D. did, but it looks larger to us in the photograph — but, of course, that could be an optical illusion. If it is larger, this might be a milk pitcher, which can be as small as 6 to 8 inches tall.
The thing that really bothers us is what appears to be a blemish on the hat. Checking one of the photographs we see a grayish circular spot surrounded by the green enamel on the cap and this looks like a chip. If it is indeed a chip, it is in a very visible place and will greatly detract from the monetary value of this figurative cream pitcher. If this piece is undamaged, it should be valued in the $85 to $125 range ($50 more for a milk-sized pitcher), but if it is chipped, that price would plummet by half or more.
Write to Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN 37927, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like your question to be considered for the column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus.