Small Mug, Staffordshire, salt-glazed stoneware, c.1765

 

This incredibly tactile Staffordshire salt-glazed mug or tankard is the smallest I have handled. The shape is also interesting as it is not of a simple straight-sided form, curving inwards towards the slightly everted rim and again towards the base. The incised or sgrafitto (scratched) foliate scrolls have the distinctive blue cobalt colouring, and turned bands frame this decoration. The handle, set high on the body, shows the seams from the mould in which the rolled clay was pressed, prior to being applied. The lower handle terminal is especially sweet, as the potter simply curled the clay upwards.

Although little bigger than a coffee cup or can, it is possible that this small mug could have been used for drinking 'small beer' or 'small ale' - a notoriously strong beverage of the time, and one which was consumed in smaller measures.

Condition: Excellent - no damage or restoration. The glaze and body contain the firing impurities and potting irregularities and impressions expected with hand-thrown salt-glazed stoneware of this period.

Dimensions: Height (to top of handle) 7.4 cm

A Collector's History of English Pottery, Griselda Lewis (Antique Collectors' Club, 1987).

Early Staffordshire Pottery, Bernard Rackham (Faber and Faber, 1951).

 

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