Spode Christmas Tree was designed in 1938 by English designer Harold Holdway for Spode's North American counterpart, Copeland and Thompson. Since Holdway had never seen a Christmas tree decorated in the American style, his original sketch depicted Christmas presents hanging on the tree's limbs, like ornaments. When he was told gifts in America were placed under the tree, he revised his sketch to reflect that tradition. He did manage to leave a unique touch, however. Since he did not realize that most Americans used angels or stars as tree toppers, Holdway placed a figure of Santa Claus atop his tree design! While the unique design created some concern among Holdway’s North American colleagues, it was commissioned for production. The results have been spectacular – Spode Christmas Tree-Green Trim is the most popular of all the more than 425,000 patterns carried at Replacements, Ltd.!
Twelve Days Of Christmas by Block Crystal is a charming multi-motif blown glass pattern featuring colorful renditions of the gifts described in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol. This carol, which was made popular in England during the 17th century, tells the story of gifts given on each of the twelve days between Christmas Day (December 25th) and the Epiphany (January 6th). While the lyrics of this beloved carol are familiar, it’s not typically noted that the gifts described in the song are cumulative – by the end of the song, the gift giver has given a total of 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 40 gold rings, 42 geese, 42 swans, 40 maids, 36 ladies, 30 Lords, 22 pipers, and 12 drummers, for a grand total of 364 gifts! In America, the fourth line of the song mentions “four calling birds,” but the original line was “four colly birds,” or “blackbirds” (since “colly” is an adjective meaning “black as coal”). In addition, the “gold rings” mentioned in the fifth verse were not pieces of jewelry, but a reference to ring-necked birds (like pheasants). This makes the fifth line consistent with the previous four, all of which concern birds. With this knowledge in hand, now you can regale your friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of this traditional holiday carol!
Spode’s Christmas Tree pattern also includes stainless steel flatware featuring the same iconic holiday design that adorns Christmas Tree china. This flatware is the perfect complement to Christmas Tree china, of course, but is also a great way to enhance any holiday tablescape. Spode founder Josiah Spode opened the doors of his porcelain factory in 1780. Under his guidance, the factory introduced two important breakthroughs in the development of English ceramics. Using bone ash, Spode was the first English china maker to achieve higher firing temperatures, resulting in beautifully detailed, longer-lasting china. The company’s second important achievement was perfecting "underglaze" decorating. Intricate designs could be applied to china that would last for years without chipping, scratching, or fading. Bone ash composition and underglaze decorating were inexpensive – making fine china available to the English middle class at prices they could afford.
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