Billingsley Rose is a china pattern that was used to decorate Copeland Spode tableware, dinnerware and glassware from the 1920s when it was first introduced until 1989 when it was retired. The decorative flower pattern is named after William Billingsley, born in 1758 in Derby, England. Although Billingsley never worked for the Spode dynasty, his flower patterns have been known by china collectors for the last two hundred years and it was in his honour that this pattern is named.
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Although it is known to come in yellow, the Billingsley Rose design usually consists of a central pink rose surrounded by leaves, ferns, small buds as well as tiny blue flowers and berries. The plate or dish itself is often embossed at the edges in lace or semicircle patterns. The Billingsley rose design has been applied to Copeland Spode dinner sets, tea sets, as well as to products such as thimbles and statuettes.
William Billingsley “was a china painter of unusual excellence,” writes Llewellynn Jewitt in his work The Ceramic Art of Great Britain. According to the historian, Billingsley’s talents as a craftsman helped create factories in Pinxton, Mansfield, Nantgarw, and Swansea. Beginning as an apprentice in 1774, Billingsley studied under one of the best porcelain painters of the English landscape, Zachariah Boreman. In pattern books of the period, certain designs are described as “Billingsley’s flowers.”
The Spode Dynasty
Although they were contemporaries, it is not known whether William Billingsley crossed paths with Josiah Spode I, the founder of the Spode Copland Dynasty in 1780. Not only was Josiah Spode I a brilliant businessman, but he also developed two major breakthroughs in earthenware production. He created the formula for bone china and the process for under glaze printing. It is fitting then that the Spode legacy would pay tribute to such an influential craftsman, although this wouldn’t be until more than one hundred years later.
The Billingsley Rose design and the Copeland dynasty
In 1784, Josiah Spode I employed William Copeland and in 1822 the company changed its name to Spode and Copeland. When all the Spode progeny had died by 1830, the company dropped the Spode name but took it back up again in 1970 on the commemoration of the founding. The Billingsley Rose was first applied to Copeland China in the 1920s by members of the Copeland family. In 1970, the Rose was still in use when the company was restored to its original name Spode. China with this pattern has since become known as Billingsley Rose Spode.
Jewel Shaped China and the Billingsley Rose
In the 1920s, the Copelands used jewel shaped china to apply the first Billingsley Rose in homage to the great china painter, William Billingsley.The jewel shape was first used in 1857 for a special decorated service known as the Shah’s Service. The edge of the dish was embossed with small concentric rings meant to look like highly detailed lace. The print instantly became a best seller and was used on various earthenware products until 1989 when it was retired.
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