19th Century Memory Jug - image 1 of 6

The Memory Jug originated in Africa and was used to decorate graves and help the dead navigate to the afterlife. The tradition came to this country through the slave trade and saw a surge in the late 1800's as our Victorian ancestors sought a means to display mementos in one place.

The jug, or far, has hundreds of items, almost all metal, cemented to a commercially made glass gar. The items include: bits of chain, hinges, keys, locks, screws, washers, a metal caster, hooks, nails, buttons, a pair of scissors, a button hook, staples, a belt buckle, a pipe (smoking) and numerous odd bit of metal. One non-metallic item is a glass vial (which has broken).

The jug measures 9" tall and 6" in diameter at its base. It weighs in at a hefty 7+ pounds.

A careful look at the items helps us date the piece3. Most of the screws are the straight shafted type (pre-1845) but there is one wire nail. Some of the decorated metal pieces were common in the second half of the 19th century. From this we surmise this memory jug was made in the second half of the 19th Century from bits of scrap, perhaps from grandpa's workshop.

The just was finished off with applications of blue and gold paint in a somewhat random fashion.

Condition is remarkably good with only the broken glass vial and a few missing pieces over its 100+ years.

Folk Art

As Good As Old

19th Century Memory Jug

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