This rare ewer or hot beverage jug is a stunning classical model and a wonderful nautical presentation piece.
The hinged cover has a beautifully cast thistle finial secured with the original, marked nut. An applied band of water leaves hang downward from the edge of the neck and spout.
Covered in textured leaves, the scrolling handle is cast and applied. The shoulder of the body is draped in stunning textured water leaves connected by flowers in bloom while the base of the body uses a variation of this leaf pointing upwards. Eight fluted lobes make up the shape of the body.
The shaped, pedestal foot is dramatically repousséd and chased with acanthus leaf decoration.
The front of this wonderful ewer is engraved:
Captain James West
by the Passengers
of the Ship Pocahontas
as a mark of their esteem and regard
Liverpool, May 1836'
Captain James West (1808-1884) commanded the packet ship Pocahontas which sailed back and forth between Liverpool and Philadelphia.
Although we are not sure for what event precipitated such a gift, we did come across a harrowing first-hand account from a passenger aboard one of the Pocahontas' journeys which gives one an idea of how treacherous some of these travels were. During a voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia, the ship was besieged by a waterspout with high winds, large waves and torrential rain. As the men scrambled to contain the sails, a lightning bolt hit the main mast killing one of the men2 (To read the account, see here).
While we think of this form as an ewer, the form was called a Coffee Jug in the Barnard Ledgers and has insulators to keep the handle cool from hot liquids. A very similar example is pictured and described as 'a typical claret jug of the period but with insulators added to enable it to be used for coffee'.(1) (In fact, some Barnard claret jugs came with insulators!)(2)
This rare ewer is fully hallmarked on the side of the neck. The finial bears the maker's mark along with the lion passant and sovereign's head while the attachment screw has the lion passant. The handle bears the maker's mark along with the lion passant, sovereign's head and the factory code '438' which is also stamped underneath the body. It measures 12.75 inches high to the top of the handle, weighs 34 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition. The ivory insulators have been replaced.
- John Fallon, House of Barnard - A notable Family of Manufacturing Silversmiths to the Trade, (Bright Pen, 2012), p. 219.
- Elisha Bates, The Miscellaneous Repository, Volume 5, Issue 21, (Harvard College Library, Hudson & Nicholson, 1836), pp. 321-325