Friday, 22 February 2013

Mudlarking in the snow

It was rather bizarre, mudlarking as snowflakes glided down. As I scoured the upper bank suddenly a tall guy whooshed down the stairs towards me, turning sharply to clamber up to search the section of wall he was looking for, ‘found it’, a geocacher delighted with another kind of find.

Deborah joined me half an hour in, for her first mudlark. Find of the day was so good, it’ll have a post all of its own, when I’ve had a chance to get back to its roots.

An early find was this rather fine medieval shard, picked up because of its incisions. Looking at it side on, I worked out it is probably the bottom of a strap handle attached to a jug. There are three small indentations on the glazeless reverse, which fit the tips of my fingers perfectly, where the likely female potter had strengthened the body of the jug as she smoothed and merged the handle 500+ years ago.
Mudlarking Find: Section of strap handle

Side view of handle showing diagonal join

Reverse showing three finger indentations 
Previous white clay handles I’ve found before have been
stabbed’, as described in this previous post. I suspect the incisions mark where the handle began to break away from the base and as with stabbing had two functions, decorative and prevented the clay from fracturing by enabling water to be released from the thicker sections of the jug as it was fired. It could well be Surrey whiteware produced 1240 – 1500, but I’ve failed to find a jug from these medieval pottery producing areas which has similar slashes – so perhaps it is from somewhere else? I wonder if it came from a one of these lovely baluster jugs.
Kingston ware Baluster Jug 1240 - 1360 (British Museum) 
This next piece is only 300+ years old. When I picked it up, I could see the bubbly relief bits and suspected they belonged to a Westerwald animal. It took me ages to work it out when I got home. As I look at it now it all seems rather obvious. A lion, its bush ended thin tail on the top left swishing into the cobalt blue. Beneath its body. The blobs are its mane, his face badly rendered but you can make out the crescent of its mouth swallowing the blue, with a single sharp tooth top and bottom.
Mudlarking Find: Westerwald Rampant Lion 
It’s likely he is one of two lions who supported a large medallion on the front of an imported German Westerwald chamber pot, popular for over 100 years, between 1630s – 1750s. Alternatively he could have been doing the same thing on a jug. Amusingly these animals seem to be referred to as 'rampant' in the antiques trade. 
17th C Westerwald Camber Pot  (Croker Farm) 

Westerwald Salt glazed Jug 1656 (Christies) 
Another pressed copper alloy button, this time with the inscription  O H ? Attneave Farringdon St EC. My google searching got me only so far, an existing street near Farringdon Street was renamed Attneave Street in 1895 probably after Alfred Attneave a Clerkenwell vestryman according to one source. Alternatively it could refer to a company name, in the census of 1881 there were 5 people with the surname Attneave in Clerkenwell.
Mudlarking Find: Copper Alloy Button 
The Georgian mudbank is giving up quite a bit of red stoneware at the moment. This time a rather fine teacup handle. It wasn’t until 1750 that teacups were produced with handles and red stoneware reached its popularity between 1750-1760, so reasonable to assume it’s from around this time. Quite possibly from Staffordshire whose potters were producing copies of the popular Chinese Yixing red stoneware teapots which were first imported to Britain in 1669. Covered in an earlier post on Rosso Antico
Mudlarking Find: Red  Stoneware  teacup handle
I haven’t bothered to pick up the bakewell tart like Staffordshire Combed Slipware for ages, but this large, big as your hand piece was just too yummy.
Mudlarking Find: Staffordshire Combed Slipware 1690-1830
A large piece of what I assume is English porcelain was also swishing about in the low tide, perhaps Worcester or Caughley but I can’t find a pattern match.
Mudlarking Find: English Porcelain 
Other finds are chucked together below, the usual mixture of slipware, hand painted pearl ware, Chinese export porcelain, delft, transferware, banded ware, white salt glaze,  and yet more sections of clay pipes with makers initials either side of their feet, this time P/S  and W/W. 

Mudlarking Finds: The rest. 
Our morning was finished off with a cup of tea and cake in the Tate restaurant where we shared our finds. Our view couldn't have been more spectacular looking across to St Pauls  through the falling snow. The cold hadn't put Deborah off and she's keen to come down again, although I should remember Deborah can deal with anything, even her broken rib on this trip. Off with the boots and on with the shoes with just enough time to walk along the Southbank, over Westminster Bridge for a meeting in Whitehall I had to attend on my day off. As we were ushered in to a room to wait to be summonsed, had just enough time to pull out a few of my treasures to show my colleague, amused by the juxtaposition

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