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Tankard

ca. 1786-1810
Origin: England, Staffordshire, Burslem
Overall: 4 9/16 x 3 1/4 x 4 9/16in. (11.6 x 8.3 x 11.6cm)
Stoneware, salt-glazed, white with blue
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2007-25
White salt-glazed stoneware tankard with blue filled, incised, floral decoration commonly described as debased scratch blue. The mug has an applied medallion opposite the handle which depicts an American eagle; a version of the Great Seal of the United States of America. Until recently vessels with this decoration were attributed to Liverpool, but recent excavation from a kiln waster pit in Burslem, Staffordshire yielded shards of this exact pattern confirming that mugs of this type they were made there.
Label:The Friends Fund also financed the purchase of a late 18th-century English salt-glazed stoneware mug. Featuring incised decoration usually termed "debased scratch blue," it bears an applied relief badge in the form of a spread eagle. With ornament directly based on the Great Seal of the United States, the mug was clearly meant for the American market. Long thought to be of Liverpool manufacture, archaeological investigation recently confirmed that such wares were instead the product of a pottery at Burslem in Staffordshire.
Written for the Friends of Collections Newsletter, Spring 2007

English white salt-glazed stoneware tea and dinner services had passed from fashion by the 1780s. The development of creamware and its ascendant popularity among both royalty and commoners is customarily cited as initiating this demise. Circumstances were exacerbated further in America by direct access to Chinese and Continental porcelains. England competed for her former colonial market by offering new, more fashionable ceramic materials. Nevertheless, production of white stoneware did not cease entirely, as documented by debased scratch blue tankards ornamented with American eagles rather than portraits of George III. Fragments of these vessels have not yet been identified
at archaeological sites on this side of the Atlantic, but the derivation of the design from the great seal of the United States leaves little doubt regarding its destined market. The 2006 discovery in England of shards bearing American eagle medallions alongside more typical examples with likenesses of King George confirms these tankards were made in Burslem, Staffordshire.***
Provenance:Vendor: Samuel herrup Fine Antiques and Works of Art, Sheffield, MA***
Inscription(s):Great Seal of the United States***