Tankard, creamware, English, c.1800


This creamware tankard is transfer-printed on-glaze in black with a large mariner's 32-wind compass rose, beneath a dark brownish-red enamel line. The cardinal points (N, S, E, and W) and the intercardinal points (NE, SE, SW, and NW) are hand-enamelled in red and yellow respectively. The eight principal winds are enamelled in green, as is the Catherine wheel design at the very centre of the compass.

The premier navigational aid for sailors, the compass features prominently on English creamware items from the period 1780-1820, almost always under the title Come Box the Compass. For this sea-faring island nation, this was a time of ever increasing international trade and victorious sea battles. Drakard illustrates a Liverpool shape jug with a compass print marked J. Johnson, Liverpool. A print with a Catherine wheel in the centre of the compass, as on the present example, is illustrated by Drakard on a creamware bowl impressed Wedgwood & Co., and also on a creamware plate impressed HERCULANEUM. A similar plate impressed Neale & Co. is illustrated by Edwards.

It is possible that the wares were bought undecorated to be transferred and sold by the printer.

Provenance: Paper label for the ceramics dealer and writer, Louis Gautier (c.1867-1943).

Condition: No cracks or restoration, just a small chip to the footrim, and tiny patches of glaze loss to the rim. From manufacture, there are small blobs of pooled glaze stuck to the footrim.

Dimensions: Height 11.6 cm

Sailors Afloat and Ashore, David Drakard (ECC Transactions, vol. 14, no. 1, 1990).

Neale Pottery and Porcelain: Its Predecessors and Successors, 1763-1820, Diana Edwards (Barrie & Jenkins, 1987).

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

English Pottery and Porcelain, Geoffrey Wills (Guinness, 1969).


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