• canary yellow pottery
  • canary yellow pottery
  • canary yellow pottery
  • canary yellow pottery

A canary yellow pottery Toy Mug, Staffordshire or the North-East, circa 1820

With its naive, inexpertly-applied print and charming message, this brightly coloured, diminutive mug is such a wonderful evocation of early 19th-century pottery folk art.

Recognised as The Sailor’s Farewell, the reddish brown print depicts a sailor and his lass. As he says his goodbyes, she looks rather disconsolate with her handkerchief. Behind them, a youth with a small boat waves his hat in the air. He is waiting to take the sailor to the full-masted ship which lies beyond. The inscription ‘WHEN THIS YOU SEE, REMEMBER ME‘ is printed below. Versions of this print also occur on 18th-century delftware plates and Liverpool tiles.

In his paper, Sailors Afloat and Ashore, David Drakard discusses the popularity of this print (Jemmy’s Farewell) and how its origins relate to the 1771 ballad of Auld Robin Gray, written by Lady Anne Ballard (b.1750). See the gallery of images above for a 1785 hand-coloured mezzotint of Jemmy’s Farewell, published by Sayer & Bennett (British Museum).

The Staffordshire factories produced canary yellow pottery, as did the potteries based in the North-East of England, in and around Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sunderland. The ‘sailor’ theme would have been a popular one in the North-East, owing to its maritime connections.

This is the smallest canary yellow pottery mug that I have seen, and for scale, the last image shows the mug with a ten pence piece. 

Condition: Excellent – no chips, cracks or restoration. A few pieces of kiln grit have adhered to the glaze on and around the handle, and there are a couple of small areas where the yellow glaze has not covered the body so thickly. Such potting and firing anomalies are not unusual for wares of this period.

Dimensions: Height 5 cm (2 inches); Diameter 4.3 cm (1 11/16 inch)

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