Here is a coffee cup and saucer that I immediately thought was Spode, because it is decorated with Spode’s very popular Banana Tree pattern—it was an easy attribution. But gradually some things about it began to bother me. First, on Spode pieces the bold pattern is also painted on the inside of cups, and this cup has no decoration on the inside. Second, the pattern is painted with a little more hesitancy than one sees on Spode, and the colored design and gilding feel just a little odd, misshapen, hesitant. Third, the handle is not a typical Spode handle (certainly not for a coffee cup), but this shape of handle is found on Coalport cups (see Berthoud’s book). Fourth, it has no factory mark or pattern number, but the Spode pieces in this pattern are most often marked underneath with “SPODE” and the pattern number, 2214.
On the other hand, rather than raise questions that have no answer, I could simply admit to myself that this might be a genuine Spode variation of its normal pattern, and it could have been painted by some factory hand who was new to the task, and the handle might have warped in the kiln, and, after all, Spode was often unmarked.
On the other, other hand, Coalport and the other major factories (including Spode, of course) copied the designs of other factories when the owner of a set wished to replace broken pieces or expand the service. And that’s my conclusion with this set. I think Coalport copied Spode’s pattern on its own porcelain shapes, probably at the request of a customer. Your thoughts on all this would be appreciated.
But getting back to the business of selling antiques, the saucer is five and a half inches across and the cup unfortunately has a repaired chip on the rim (shown). The decoration has some slight surface wear—please see the photos. Whether you agree with my picky analysis or not, the Banana Tree will always be an outstanding design.
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Early (Not) Spode But Coalport (!) Banana Tree Pattern 2214 Coffee Cup & Saucer C1820.
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