A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Copeland Majolica Date Codes

We were asked recently if majolica manufacturing companies besides Minton, Wedgwood and George Jones dated their pieces. The only other manufacturer that we know of is Copeland /Spode. Theirs was a much simpler coding method than that of Jones, Minton or Wedgwood and is extended to dating their fine china as well.

From 1870 to 1963 impressed date marks were used on Copeland pieces. On majolica and decorated earthenware they were used from 1870 until 1957. On bone china and other fine china they were used from 1870 until 1963. The date marking continued after this point but since the period of majolica manufacture concluded around 1920 we will not discuss these other codes here.

The method of marking was a very simple one. It took the form of a letter above a two digit number impressed into the base. The letter referred to the month of manufacture and followed the following code: J was used for January; F for February; M for March; A for April; Y for May; U for June; L for July; T for August; S for September; O for October; N for November and D for December. One should not confused these letters for others one might find impressed in the clay. These other letters most likely refer to place of manufacturer or catalog style. The only letters that count are those directly above a two digit number.

The numbers refer to the year of manufacture. Consider the example below impressed into the base of a Copeland Lotus pitcher. The L on the base refers to the month of July and the 80 refers to the year of 1880. Hence, we know this particular Lotus pitcher was manufactured in July of 1880.

A second example is shown on the green plate below.

This green plate has the S for September on the reverse above the 02 signifying the year 1902. This particular pattern was very popular for Copeland and was made for a very long time. It was also copied by other manufacturers as well so having proof of its Copeland origin is particularly useful here.

Here is an example on a sweet Copeland majolica basket.

This one shows an S over 78 indicating September of 1878. This impression is a bit more faint than the previous two but careful examination will reveal its presence.

Here's one final example, a rather rare Copeland majolica cauliflower teapot, which was no doubt the model on which the well-known Etruscan cauliflower teapot is based. This one has the letter J indicating January and the number 74 for 1874. We can say with assurance that this piece was made in January 1874.

We should note that Copeland was not as fastidious as Minton or Wedgwood in marking their ware so  these marks will only appear on a fraction of their output but it is a genuine pleasure to be able to decode them when you can find them.

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