Fine Bone China : Humble Beginnings

Josiah Spode came from humble beginnings while growing up in England, and was at the tender age of six-years-old when he lost his father. Little Josiah watched his father being buried in a pauper’s grave; a basic burial with no frills or even a headstone, given to poor people of that era who couldn’t afford a conventional burial. At the age of seven, Josiah was put to work 12 hours a day in a pottery. In 1749, when Josiah was sixteen-years-old, he was given the good fortune to apprentice for a successful Staffordshire potter, Henry Whieldon. After learning his trade for five years, Josiah changed jobs and went to work as a skilled potter for Stoke potter, William Banks.

josiah spodeJosiah Spode did well, soon opening a small factory of his own. Due to Josiah’s outstanding skills, he prospered, purchasing William Banks’ factory where Josiah’s factory still remains to this day. Josiah created industry firsts within the realm of English ceramics. In 1784 Josiah earned a good reputation for his glazing techniques for blue under-glaze printing from hand-engraved plates made of copper, onto earthenware. Josiah’s technique established a secure future, not only for his Company, but for the industry as a whole that experienced phenomenal growth due to Josiah’s creativity.

In 1796, during the final years of the eighteenth century, Josiah Spode perfected a certain formulation technique producing the first fine bone china. Josiah’s ingenious creativity moved the entire potting industry forward. Fine bone china, known in its infancy as English china, was made with a bone dust combination resulting in a unique delicate translucency with brilliant whiteness; strong, with a resonance sounding similar to a bell; chinaa sound only heard when fine bone china is gently ‘pinged’ with thumb and forefinger.

Josiah I’s son, Josiah II, honed his skills becoming one of the top marketing experts of his day, selling his father’s tableware creations from a shop in London, and employing the services of a traveling salesman to spread the word further afield. Two years after his father’s death in 1797, Josiah II had a thriving business selling fine bone china by the name Stoke china, gaining a Royal warrant from Prince Charles after visiting Josiah’s factory. This was the first of what were to be six Royal warrants the Company earned from impressed royalty.

And so, fine bone china is still as popular today with the aristocracy, royalty and discerning hotels and households the world over as it has always been, to serve tea in the manner it has always been meant to be served, and to bring out the absolute best flavor of any type of tea you choose to imbibe.

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