Spode’s two famous contributions to the Pottery Industry were the perfection of transfer printing in 1784 and the development of fine bone china in about 1799. (Although bone china is a porcelain it is always referred to as bone china)
The successful development of bone china by the Spode factory at Stoke-on-Trent (around 1770-present – the exact date the factory was stared is not known), for wares of outstanding beauty and economy in the Regency style of the early 1800s, ensured its preeminence among commercial producers.
Spode’s nearest rival was Minton (1796-present), outstanding in the Victorian period for its “art” porcelains. Among Spode’s chief followers in producing bone china for the mass market were Davenport (c. 1793-1887); Wedgwood for a short period between 1812 and 1822 (Wedgwood later re-introduced bone china production, and they continue production today); Ridgeway, New Hall, and Rockingham. A host of lesser concerns served the expanding middle-class market.
Spode created many of his patterns after Chinese designs; he developed a highly effective method of transfer printing with blue under glazes. He also experimented with a transparent but durable bone china, arriving at a formula that is still used. His son Josiah Spode II, 1754–1827, took over the pottery factory in 1797. He is credited with having introduced feldspar into Spode ware and for producing pottery of a high technical excellence.
Spode remained at the forefront of bone china and stone china production until 1833, when the factory was acquired by William Taylor Copeland and Thomas Garrett: it remained under their names until 1847, when Copeland became the sole owner.