Jugs, mugs and ewers, according to “David Battie’s Guide to Understanding 19th & 20th Century British Porcelain,” were commonplace in most early 19th century British households. Without running water or other ways to store liquids, these items were indispensable.
Relief molded jugs are usually thought to be a manifestation of Victorian eclecticism, but the majority of them were designed after 1837. Most of the subject matters used in their designs can be found on earlier jugs.
William Ridgway is considered among the best of the 19th Century Staffordshire potters. This graduated pair of relief molded jugs were manufactured during his partnership with Mr. Abington. The pattern was named “Harvest Jug.” This design appeared in the “Journal of Design and Manufacturers” for May 1849. Although Examples of this design can be found in buff, green or white stoneware; this pair is in the buff color. The design is decorated with six panels, three on each side containing hops, a grape vine and a sheaf of corn (see page 70, “Relief Moulded Jugs: 1820-1900,” by R.K. Henrywood).
The body of the design is naturalistic but under the naturalistic motifs are a series of cartouches that bring the design to the bottom flared rim of the jug. After the high shoulder, the jug tapers in with another series of cartouches and scrolls until it reaches the wide flared spout. The design on the handle matches the jugs upper and lower designs.
This six-sided jug has a magnificent sculptural quality about it. The handle that is set high up adds an impressive presence. The “Harvest Jug” is one of many successful and new designs created during the partnership of Ridgway and Abington. This partnership were “famous for their manufacture of water and beer jugs,” notes R.K. Henrywood.
Both of these jugs are impressed with the Ridgway mark and date code for 1849.
Each jug is of superb quality as far as the relief work, color and the glaze of the stoneware. They are both beautiful examples of the art of this pottery factory. The smaller jug has absolutely no imperfections whatsoever. There is nothing to remark upon. The only flaw I could find in the larger, heavier jug are a small inside chip on the spout and a hairline firing crack where the large handle meets the jug. Although both of these imperfections can be addressed through minor restoration, I chose to leave the jug in its original condition. They are minor and I don’t believe detract from its beauty or impressive sculptural quality. Together, they create a stunning pair.
The smaller jug measures 8-3/4 inches high from the top of the handle to the bottom and about 6-7/8 inches from the tip of the spout to the edge of the handle. The larger jug is almost 11 inches in height and measures 8-3/4 inches from the spout to the handle’s edge.
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