Unusual creamware desk or serving piece, this centurion appears to be standing guard over the contents of the two reticulated containers on each side of him. The rims are pierced about three-fourths of the way up the side and the base appear to be constructed of tiny stones, giving the soldier, in his elevated duty between the two, something to preside over. The soldier wears tunic type armor and has a shield resting at his foot and a sword by his side. There are two indentations, one in front, and one in the back in the center of the piece.
If this is a desk accessory, these little pouches could have been for coins or stamps or pen nibs. The containers could have been glass-lined at one point. Dimensions are 10" tall, 9" long and 5.5" wide at the widest point which is the center. This piece was purchased from an Atlanta estate.
It has some wear on it but no major damage, just a bit of the gritty material under surface showing through the creamy glaze. This indicates inexact firing temperature in a hand-stoked kiln where temperature control was difficult and unpredictable, as in the very early days of ceramics. Further, the top of the helmet appears to have had plumage or some type of top piece. This could be an old repair or it could be the original design. I can shed no light on this other than to say it appears to be unfinished. I have never seen another piece like this so I have no further information about its origin. I believe, however, it is English, perhaps Leeds.
Creamware or cream-colored earthenware has been made in England since around 1720. In 1740, Booth introduced a fluid glaze that did a lot to establish creamware as the standard earthenware body for the next 100 years. Wedgwood improved on the body and its glazes and was one of the leading producers. Wedgwood gained royal patronage for his firm and this did much to elevate the popularity of the product and gave rise to the name Queensware. The light weight of the produce plus its attractiveness even when undecorated swept the market and entrenched the produce with many Staffordshire potters of the period. As is typical of this ware, there are no marks. The clay underneath the centurion appears greenish. As a desk accessory, or in a man's study or library, this could be the centerpiece of a collection.
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