Parks Canada Banner
Parks Canada Home

Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 22

Spode/Copeland Transfer-Printed Patterns Found at 20 Hudson's Bay Company Sites

by Lynne Sussman

The Catalogue

Pattern Names

Unless otherwise noted, the pattern names cited in the catalogue are those given by the Spode/Copeland company. They have been verified by the factory pattern books, company catalogues, names engraved on the copper plates, or pieces on which the pattern name has been printed.


The date range given for each pattern name includes, in most cases, the date the pattern was introduced and the latest date for which there is evidence that the pattern was considered usable by the factory. It is most unlikely that a pattern with a date range of, say, 50 years was used continuously throughout that period although it was not uncommon for the Spode/Copeland company to re-engrave, reintroduce and even reregister its patterns. For example, Italian, introduced circa 1816, does not appear in W.T. Copeland and Sons' 1882 catalogue but is being produced today by Spode Limited.

The introductory date of a pattern is most often deduced from its lowest recorded number in a Spode/Copeland factory pattern book. These numbers, when known, are included in the catalogue.

The main Spode/Copeland pattern number series, in use until 1852, simply began at number one and continued upward with each new pattern. The series was used to record painted and/or gilded patterns as well as transfer-printed patterns with painted or gilded embellishments. (The engraved copper plates for the transfer-print patterns were simply stored alphabetically by pattern name.) Very little painted or gilded decoration appears on Copeland transfer-printed ceramics from the 20 Hudson's Bay Company sites; nevertheless, it is still possible to assign dates to the patterns since most transfer-printed patterns were at one time embellished with painted or gilded decoration and therefore received numbers which can be used as indices of the introductory dates of the basic transfer-print patterns.

In 1822 a secondary numbering system employing the prefix "B" was introduced for recording underglaze decoration, including transfer-printing, but was abandoned in 1841 after the recording of fewer than one thousand patterns.

In 1852 the main pattern series had reached a cumbersome 10,000 and a new series, in effect a continuation of the main series, was begun using the prefix "D." Early numbers in the D series were given to variations of patterns already in the company repertoire. The first D number to appear with a new pattern was D317 (Copeland 1976a).

By 1874 the D pattern numbers had reached 10,000 and yet another series was introduced to continue the system. The new series divided china patterns from earthenware ones by the prefixes "1/" and "2/" respectively. The allotted 10,000 pattern numbers were eventually consumed, but not until the 20th century.

Leonard Whiter (1970) produced a reliable dating sequence for the majority of the main pattern numbers (those used until 1852) by the painstaking collection of scattered clues in the company records including dated watermarks in the pattern books. His interest centred around the Spode period, prior to 1833, and his sequence stops at that date. Using plentiful watermarks, Whiter also compiled another excellent dating sequence for the B series (1822-41) (Whiter 1970: 89).

Spode/Copeland pattern numbers are also summarized in a notebook compiled in 1956 by Sam Williams, the pattern record keeper for W.T. Copeland and Sons (Spode Limited, Factory pattern number summary ...). Since Williams used only some of the watermarks as a dating device, his dates are rather less reliable than Whiter's. Extracts from Williams's dating keys are presented in Appendix B.

Excavated Material

Reference in the catalogue to excavated examples are limited to pieces bearing maker's marks. The marks that have been found on excavated material are described and illustrated in Appendix C and Figure 249. The occurrence of the various patterns at the 20 sites is recorded in Table 1.


No mention of colour is made in the catalogue. Most of the patterns were printed in a range of colours which were commonly used by other manufacturers as well. Although different colours were popular at different times, not enough is known about the introductory or terminal dates of the colours to make them an effective dating tool.

The Illustrations

The transfer-print patterns are generally shown reduced from their actual size. In most cases the prints shown are designed for plates (every different type of object would have its own engraving and print of a pattern), but some of the prints for other objects are illustrated; for example, the print for a souptureen (Fig. 23), for a sugarbowl and creamer (Fig. 203).

The centre designs are occasionally awry. Because the borders and centres of transfer prints are applied separately, there is no need for the various design elements to be positioned on the copper plates as they would appear on the finished pieces.

Besides the patterns themselves, various other elements may appear on the copper plates. As a general rule these would appear on the backs of the finished pieces, but were engraved on the same copper plate as the pattern. Maker's marks appear frequently with the exception of W.T. Copeland (1847-67) marks which were engraved on separate copper plates. Registration marks also appear, both the diamond mark, used from 1843 to 1883, and the simpler "Rd No" and number, used after 1883. Less frequently seen are club or association insignia or special inscriptions for custom orders; for example, "Public Rooms, Kamptee" (Fig. 34), "Rey's Hotel" (Fig. 131).

Table 1. Spode/Copeland Transfer-Printed Patterns from 20 Hudson's Bay Company Sites

(click image for a PDF version of this table)

previous Next

Last Updated: 2006-09-15 To the top
To the top