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Pig Flask

ca. 1865
Origin: America, Illinois, Anna
H: 3 1/2"; L: 8"
Stoneware, salt-glazed, brown
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2005.900.7
Thrown flask in the shape of a pig with applied ears, legs, tail and genitalia. The vessel is coated in a thin iron wash and a salt glaze. The pig has applied ears on either side of his head (proper left ear is missing), his eyes are highlighted with black pigment on the pupils, and eyebrows were drawn in with green pigment. The mouth is an incised line that curves downward with the proper left side drooping further than the proper right side. The applied tail curves up from the back and is highlighted with black pigment. There is a hole in the rear end of the pig to serve as a drinking hole. This hole is directly beneath the applied tail. The four legs of the pig are folded beneath him - the two front legs folded back and the two rear legs folded forward. The applied penis is highlighted with red pigment.

The proper left side of the pig bears an incised inscription that reads: "Anna Pottery sends her compliments/to/Howard editor of the Mound City/Journal, and clerk of the/ city council. Please accept/this token of regard with/a little good old Bourbon/in a hogs (flask opening)"

The proper right side of the pig bears an incised picture of the Anna Pottery building. There is a sign on top of the building that reads "Anna Pottery" and a sign over the porch roof to the left that reads "Stoneware". In front of the factory is a water pump with a man pumping water. Beneath the picture of the pottery is a railroad line with ICRR (for Illinois Central Railroad) beneath it. Following the railroad line to the right (or front of the pig) the word "Chicago" is incised beneath the mouth. Following the railroad line to the left (or rear of the pig) the word "junction" is incised. One line continues straight and loops around the flask opening with the word "Cairo" incised near it. The other line moves down and further towards the rear and ends at the scrotum of the pig where "Mound City" is incised on one side and "First High Bluff" is incised on the other side. "Porkokolis" is incised on the underside of the pig between the front legs. This is a reference to Cincinnati (it usually appears on the underside of the pigs).
Label:The Anna Pottery made hundreds of pig flasks for businesses to distribute as premiums and some, like this one, as presentation pieces for individuals. Incised on the side of the flask is "Anna Pottery sends her compliments to Howard editor of the Mound City Journal, and clerk of the city council. Please accept this token of regard with a little good old Bourbon in a hogs..." The message ends near the rear of the animal, and the flask opening is its anus. Such inscriptions were intended to be humorous and ironic; while the recipient enjoyed "a little good old Bourbon" he was drinking from the rear end of a pig, and animal that wallows in its own waste.
Hiram Howard, to whom this flask was presented, was editor of the MOUND CITY JOURNAL newspaper until we moved to West Virginia in the fall of 1865. It may be the earliest Anna Pottery pig flask known because the piece was presented to Howard before he left Illinois.
The other side is incised with an image of the Anna Pottery and the tracks of a branch of the Illinois Central Railroad (ICRR) at the bottom of the picture. Railroads were commonly incised into the pig flasks, but were rarely combined with an image of the pottery. Towns incised into the pig are Chicago, Cairo, Mound City (where Hiram Howard lived), and Porkokolis, a name often given to Cincinnati.
--Inspiration and Ingenuity: American Stoneware
Exhibition curated by Suzanne Findlen Hood
At the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
February 2007
Provenance:Given to Hiram Reese Howard sometime between September 28, 1865 and January 16, 1866 as a going away gift when he moved from Mound City, Illinois to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It passed from Mr. Howard to his daughter, Helen Howard Williams and from Mrs. Williams to her daughter, Helen Williams Pressley. Mrs. Pressley sold us the pig.
Inscription(s):

The proper left side of the pig bears an incised inscription that reads: "Anna Pottery sends her compliments/to/Howard editor of the Mound City/Journal, and clerk of the/ city council. Please accept/this token of regard with/a little good old Bourbon/in a hogs (flask opening)"

The proper right side of the pig bears an incised picture of the Anna Pottery building. There is a sign on top of the building that reads "Anna Pottery" and a sign over the porch roof to the left that reads "Stoneware". In front of the factory is a water pump with a man pumping water. Beneath the picture of the pottery is a railroad line with ICRR (for Illinois Central Railroad) beneath it. Following the railroad line to the right (or front of the pig) the word "Chicago" is incised beneath the mouth. Following the railroad line to the left (or rear of the pig) the word "junction" is incised. One line continues straight and loops around the flask opening with the word "Cairo" incised near it. The other line moves down and further towards the rear and ends at the scrotum of the pig where "Mound City" is incised on one side and "First High Bluff" is incised on the other side. "Porkokolis" is incised on the underside of the pig between the front legs. This is a reference to Cincinnati (it usually appears on the underside of the pigs).