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Tankard

ca. 1780
Origin: England, Staffordshire, Burslem
Overall: 5 13/16 x 5 7/16 x 3 15/16in. (14.8 x 13.8 x 10cm)
Stoneware, salt-glazed, white with blue (debased scratch blue)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1960-411
Salt-glazed stoneware tankard of almost cylindrical form with loop shape handle decorated with debased scratch blue. Opposite handle is applied medallion of right profile bust depicting crowned king between "G" and "R". Incised "petals" around medallion and other scrollwork, all filled with cobalt.
Label:A variant of scratch blue pejoratively dubbed “debased” was produced in England from about 1765 to the early nineteenth century. Undoubtedly inspired by German gray and blue stoneware, the English wares feature a finer, whiter body but were made in similar forms such as tankards, like this one, and jugs.

Distinguishing between English products and their German counterparts in period newspaper advertisements and inventories is next to impossible, but the number of shards of English debased stoneware found at archaeological sites after 1765 testifies to the popularity of these goods. Debased scratch blue is recognizable by its loosely executed decoration of foliage. Unlike the earlier wares in which cobalt is confined to incised lines, debased examples feature large areas colored with a flowing blue. Many examples also sport an applied medallion bearing a crowned “GR” or a profile portrait of King George III flanked by his initials. Royal portrait badges, however, appear to be uncommon—if not unknown—in the American colonies prior to the end of the Revolution, suggesting that the now-scarce simple crowned “GR” versions may predate the portrait examples like the one on this tankard.
Provenance:Purchased from Ernest Allman, Liverpool, England