Sunday, 8 April 2012


Sounds like it should be a character from a children’s book and on googling found out it’s the name of  a kids TV programme.  I had never heard of a pipkin until I was browsing through the Museum of London’s online catalogue and matched a find. A pipkin is an earthen ware cooking pot with three legs and at least one handle. Glaze is usually only found in the interior and can be clear (showing yellow) or less commonly green. Late 1500s and 1600s. Likley to have been  produced from potteries in Surrey/Hampshire, hence this type of pottery is called border ware. These manufacturers supplied most houses in London with pottery goods for 150 years.

Mudlarking on the Thames foreshore, I’ve found what I assume to be a couple of pipkin handles. I can’t avoid the inevitable comparison, which the kids and  teens immediately supplied when I asked them what they looked like, ‘small penis’, or the more colloquial equivalent.

Pipkin handles found Mudlarking on Thames foreshore
Ceramics and glass project digital image
Pipkin 1636- 1700, Height 14cm from Museum of London 
Each is hollow, so a stick could be inserted to lift the pot. The handles are short, one is 5 the other 6cm long. One has green glaze on the base, from the inside of the pipkin,  the other tiny remains on the outside. Movingly, you can still see the marks of the potter’s thumbs as they smoothed the handle onto the main body. 

Hollow pipkin handles 
Pipkin base showing green glaze

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