Friday, 31 August 2012

Tygs and Blackware 1580-1700

It took me a while to notice and even longer to appreciate the bold, sometimes high shine black glazed fragments on the Thames Foreshore.  I suspect for a long time I didn’t pick any up – being much more attracted to the pretties or the evidently old.
Thames Mudlarking Finds: High Shine Blackwear. 
Mudlarking Find: Base & Side of Blackware bowl?

There isn’t much available on the net on this stuff so hard to craft a clear story. At the moment I have a number of rather general leads. Quite amusing that all blackware means is that the pottery is black – or perhaps it’s nice that the archaeologists can be quite straight forward and dispense affectation.

Cambridge University archaeologists describe blackware as ‘Made between 1580 and 1700AD. The clay is very similar to that of Colchester Ware and Glazed Red Earthenware, but the vessels have a black glaze, coloured by the addition of iron. Usually drinking vessels such as mugs, but also tall, narrow cups with up to eight handles, known as 'tygs'.

Black Glazed Earthenware Tyg 1590-1700 probably from  Harlow (St Alban's Museum) 
Some talk about black glazed pottery being made at Harlow in Essex around the time they made metropolitan slipware in 1630 – 1700, others suggest  that they were made in Wrotham in Kent from 1675-1700. 

One source claims that this glaze was more expensive to make because they needed more fuel than low fired earthenwares (I presume either higher temperatures or a longer firing in the kiln).

Kathryn Kane on her blog Regency Redingote has done a nice bit of research on tygs, 

'The oldest of all these drinking vessels is the tyg and it can trace its origins back to Elizabethan times. Its name is even older, tracing back to the Anglo-Saxon word tigel, which meant anything made of clay, particularly red clay. Over the centuries, the word tyg, or tig, came to mean a special kind of drinking cup. A tyg was similar to a loving cup, but it had many more handles, the number increasing with the size of the cup. Tygs have been found with as many as ten handles. A tyg was a social drinking vessel, for it was filled to the brim, then passed around a group of drinkers. Each member of the group would have his own handle and a section of the rim of the tyg to himself. Through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, tygs were primarily made of ceramic, but by the eighteenth century, they could also be made of pewter, and very occassionally, might be made of silver. Because they were meant for use by multiple drinkers, tygs were found almost exclusively in taverns and the tap rooms of inns and public houses. But there were some who favored convivial private drinking parties and they might have had a tyg or two in their homes. It was these privately owned tygs which were most likely to be made of silver. These silver tygs might be engraved, sometimes with the name of the owner, or more often with some amusing rhyme about the consumption of the alcoholic beverages which they contained.'
Slip-decorated earthenware, Wrotham, Kent, 1682  (Allen Gallery)

Three Handled Tyg 1621 (Steve on Steins)

Tyg from Bernard Rackham's Mediaeval Pots

Tygs being passed Brugal 1525-1569 (Steve on Steins) 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Torpedo Bottles

When I was a child, teenager and young adult I would look aghast, with disbelief and contempt at the middle aged plus as they tried to work the unfamiliar.  Disappearing brain cells and diminished synaptic connectivity mean I am now that person. I therefore edge slowly into the technology of social networking.  For those of you who receive email updates (and I have no idea how many of you do this or who you all are ) or look at the blog regularly, I  proudly point out that you can now search by category on the right. My inability to fix different historical periods in my head  has been a long time frustration,  so I’m hoping now I’ve got the Georgians  and Co. with their dates  this mudlarking spin off  might just do the trick. Thank you to those who have left such lovely and encouraging comments,  I’m not quite sure about blog etiquette so haven’t responded to them all.  Now on to torpedo bottles. 

On my first ever mudlarking trip I picked up an unusual thick glass pointed bottle end. It belongs to a torpedo bottle, also referred to as ‘Hamiltons’, the original producers called them ‘egg’ bottles.  A simple but clever invention. The rounded end forced the bottles to lie on their side keeping the cork wet, stopping it from shrinking and thus preventing the fizz escaping from carbonated drinks.

Mudlarking Finds: The end of Torpedo Bottles
I was surprised to learn that artificially created carbonated drinks were first produced in 1790s. Somehow I  thought it all started with coke in the 1940s or with the perrier water my teenage sophisticated best friend used to buy in 1980.

The line running down each side of the bottle fragments and meeting at the top reveals they were made in a mould and were therefore produced after 1831.

Several hours detective work on the web which I know makes me sound rather sad,  but I just couldn’t let it go – and I'd  found the company the bottles were made for. John Webb, the soda water company was only a mile or so from us in Islington. Founded in 1818 and granted a royal warrant in 1830 the first embossed lettering was ‘J. Webb, manufacturer/double soda water/to his majesty/Islington/Near London’, very close to the endings on the bottle fragment ‘...ers of /...ter/...sty/...on/....n, looks like the first bottle  -  ‘’ could be from the same company, later labelling was ‘Webb’s double soda & other waters/to her majesty/Islington/London’  this one from around 1840. In a matter of ten years Islington, an out of London town had been absorbed into the metropolis, funny given we now think of Islington as very inner city. 

 Webb's Double Soda Torpedo Bottle with blob top c1840 with 'WEBB'S DOUBLE SODA & OTHER WATERS-TO HER MAJESTY- ISLINGTON- LONDON' embossed.  (ebay)
Victorian households purchased special stands for the torpedos, so the bottles could stand on the dining table. All looks rather elegant - I wonder if there'd be a market for them today?  

Torpedo Stands (backpackagingdesign)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Mudlarking: Find of the Day and the Rest

In retrospect an early visit to Hampstead Women's ponds for a bit of wild swimming in London would probably have been a wiser way to spend a sweltering 32 degrees in London. Yesterday, Maddy and I swam in the Thames, albeit the estuary at Canvey Island, it was surprisingly unsalty, slightly muddy and you could feel the current pulling you seawards, but still delightful. Consequently was seeking a bit of mudlarking as my last weekend treat.

I don’t usually go mudlarking on a Sunday, expecting the foreshore to have been too well picked over by the end of the weekend. The beauty was the church bells ringing out, which doesn’t seem to happen outside the centre of London anymore. First Southwark Cathedral and then as I walked homewards the wondrous bells of St Pauls, the Choir was still emanating from the Millennium bridge speakers, all rather uplifting.

This time I didn’t come across a thrilling find, but as usual when I got home and reflected on the bits and pieces I’d picked up, concluded there were quite a few satisfying pieces. 

Complete clay pipe bowls were picked up today rather than left for another beachcomber, as I have a plan for these. The small one is from 1660 and the larger ones from 1700 – 1820. 

Clay Pipes Found Mudlarking no the Thames
Scouped up a small collection of rather nice Westerwald shards, the cobalt blue still so strong, one even included the rare manganese. The incised patterns and colouring are so definite.
Westerwald Shards Found Mudlarking on the Thames
A delft picture is a rare find. It was only when I looked at this delft fragment later I realised the marks outlined a roof and house. Later in the day I came across a similar delft tile, when surfing the web.
Mudlarking Find: Roof on Delft Tile
Delft Tile 
I couldn’t walk away from this piece of iridescent glass, with its oil slick of colour. As I understand it the older the glass the more iridescent it becomes, so probably at least 400 years old, but I haven’t done my research here. 

Mudlarking Find: Iridescent Glass
Not well photographed I’m afraid, but a rather fetching group of very delicate porcelain fragments, I suspect  from tea ware.  
Mudlarking Finds, delicate Porcelain fragments from teaware
I seldom find black transferware and unusual to find a picture that isn’t flowers. 

Mudlarking Find: Child with cat
I will have to make more of an effort to turn over stoneware pieces as it's such a thrill to be rewarded with writing. Not brilliantly photographed here, it says ‘W: Num 95’, can’t track down a precise match on the net, the closest is German stoneware bottles, which people are guessing held mineral water. 
Mudlarking Find: Stoneware with W: Num 95
I’m working myself up to research and post about transfer ware, so I collected quite a few pieces today. I keep putting it off as it seems so immense and confusing. Found another fishing stone, a shard with a modern mark ‘Solian Ware SIMPSONS (Potters) Ltd. Cobridge, England' 1944+, delft, slipware, debased scratch blue white stoneware and a couple of  fragments with boat people.

Thames Mudlarking: The rest of the Days Finds

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thames Mudlarking and Finds of the Day

Last Saturday, left teenagers sleeping and nipped out for a few hours mudlarking, escaping work for a few hours. Despite catching the bus at nine London was busy, probably the Olympics. Chastised myself again for my cynical and dismissive tendencies and felt a fool for not getting tickets. Ensconced in a tent in Norfolk we even missed the opening ceremony on TV. Now of course I think it's all wonderful, especially Boyle creating an opening ceremony which represents the Britain I feel part of and proudly so. I've heard there are still para Olympic tickets to be had, so I'm on to that next week. 

So good to get down to the Thames again after a four week break. I stumbled across find of the day almost immediately a fluted clay pipe, not uncommon, but a first for me.
Thames Mudlarking Fluted Clay Pipe 
A day characterised by pottery with writing. Satisfying to find a stoneware jar with 'Stephen Green and Co Lambeth' imprinted after mentioning this pottery in my last post, probably around 150 years old. The piece with blue writing I suspect said 'Custom House' perhaps originating from a tile. The green writing of course is more modern produced by J H Weatherby and Sons at their Falcon Pottery at Hanley, Stoke on Trent, these marks date from 1936+. 
Thames Mudlarking Pottery with Lettering. 
The most exciting find is the first piece of delft I've found with writing or numbering, imperfectly wrought by hand, likely to be 17th century, unglazed on the  back, was this from a tile too? One of the few images of delft with writing I've been able to locate can be found below. 

London Delft Mug (BBC) 
I picked up a couple of Westerwald shards, conscious both featured relief decoration. It was only when I returned home, washed and dried all the pieces that I finally realised a mould had imparted the head of a serpent or dragon on one of them, perhaps impaled, alternatively a figure head.
 Thames Mudlarking Find Westerwald Serpent 
Found several lovely examples of medieval pottery but stopped myself putting them into my bag, limiting the amount of 'river rubbish' as my husband calls it, I was bringing home. An unusual relief design rising from a green glazed piece did have to be bagged however, along with  part of a handsome black glazed bowl base.  The rest of the  finds are hemmed in by blue and white china finds below, a ball of brick rounded by the Thames was just too irresistible, as were those small delicate, imperfect glass bottle necks, and choice examples of stoneware, slipware, sgraffito, mocha  and yet more delft. 
Thames Mudlarking Remaining Finds

The best thing about today was the people, it was fun to be joined by our friend Jenny and her son Tian, we met another female mudlarker, a rare breed who has been researching her finds too, I hope she posts links to her work. Two official mudlarkers were digging their large pits,  Tian enjoyed helping to fill them in at the end of their dig. Before leaving  we met a guy who had been mudlarking for a year and today had found his first coin, Georgian. Sitting on a patch of sand and resting his back against the embankment taking in the sun he looked quietly contented. 

As we made our way up to street level, we heard a choir, later realising it was another art work being pumped from speakers on the Millenium Bridge. Passed many people wearing Olympics T shirts and could tell by the different accents and languages that London was buzzing with a huge influx of people, it felt good. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Hunting Jugs and other English Stoneware

From 1750s English potters began making salt glazed brown stoneware vessels,  mainly mugs and bottles with 'sprigs',  pictures rising from the clay. Originating from potteries on the south bank of the Thames,  from Mortlake in the west to Vauxhall in the East. Some types are referred to as Fulham type stoneware others Lambeth type.

Among the most  popular vessels were the hunting jugs, or toby jugs, used for serving or storing ale and produced from the 18th to early 20th century. I do remember these jugs from my childhood, perhaps from a display cabinet or perched on a high shelf in one of my grandparent’s houses. I can still feel the glimmer of distain for what I thought were rather tastless, gaudy, rather scary monsters – how things change. Perhaps I'm confusing the ones below with the toby jugs made in the shape of a face. 

As the name suggests, a lively hunting scene runs around the bottom section of the jug, with either a hare, deer or fox chased by hounds and huntsmen on horseback. The same series of pastoral scenes, a tree, a windmill, a farmyard, and later ‘Toby’ Fillpott are emblazoned on the upper section. Philip Mernick's website reveals whilst the same scenes were depicted, different potteries used their own designs and therefore specific ‘sprigs’ can be traced to individual potteries, either Kishere or Sanders in Mortlake, the Vauxhall pottery, Doulton and Watts, Stiff and Sons or Stephen Green in Lambeth.

Hunting Jugs (
Several months ago I found a fragment from a hunting jug, the nearest similar sprig I can find is attributed to the Kishere pottery, but as you can see not an exact match.
Thames Mudlarking Find:  Hunting Jug Fragment 
Kishere Pottery Hunting Jug  1797-1843
(Museum of London ) 
I’ve also found a couple of sprigs in plaques, which I’m guessing are from other forms of stoneware, After spending  far too long trying to find something similar on the web, to no avail,  I’ve given up and so posting now to stop me wasting any more time surfing. 

Thames Mudlarking Find Stoneware Plaque
Thames Mudlarking Find Saltglaze Windmill Scene