This is a pottery English Staffordshire covered inkwell, emulating the hen on a nest, except this is a bird on a nest filled with cherries, not eggs. The date is the 19th century, circa 1850 to 1870.
The inkwell is 4 1/8" high, 5 ¼" long and 3 ¼: wide.
There is an oval base, a lid, and inside there are two little pots that insert into round holes for the ink. One pot is open and the other pot has a fixed top with pierced tiny holes.
The top shows a bed of green grass, rough to the touch. Over the grass is a mound of what appears at first glance to be bird eggs, however a closer inspection shows that there is a stem coming out of each round ball, and the round balls are colored a pale red, so the balls are not eggs but are cherries. On top of the mound of fruit is perched a bird. The sides of the lid have reticulated holes. The underside and sides are glazed, with the exception of the bottom side edge that snugs into the lower part and it is unglazed. The underside of the lid has an incised mark that looks approximately like a Roman numeral III. One side that is unglazed has the number "9." handwritten in enamel. There is one small flake on the underside edge of the lid that I show in a photo. The end stem of one cherry has a nick on it and I point to it with a red arrow in one photo.
The bottom part is mostly glazed, totally glazed on the sides, but only partially glazed on the top. The edges of the top are unglazed, and at one end the pottery has separated due to expansion and contraction of the material over the decades. I show this spot in a photo. The two little pots are mostly glazed; they fit into the holes loosely, however they are original to the piece.
The color of the glaze is more grayish than white.
This is a unique piece in excellent condition, despite the few age flaws.
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