History of Henry Wellcome's unique collection, £19.99
Height: 27.300 cm
Purchased from the
P&E 2004,0101.1.a and b
Prehistory and Europe
Copies of the Basse-Yutz flagons
20th-century copies of the finest survivals of Early Celtic art
This pair of pottery jugs was made at Stoke-on-Trent in the early 1930s. They, and other versions made at the same factory, are the only known copies of the Basse-Yutz flagons. The originals are the finest examples of early Celtic art from anywhere in Europe and their acquisition by the British Museum in 1929 caused huge excitement. This was intensified by the Museum's publicity campaign to raise the purchase price of £5000.
The copies are smaller than the originals, which were 39.6 cm, and would have made perfect mantelpiece ornaments. Each jug has a handle in the form of a dog or wolf, with another dog on the lid and a small duck sitting at the end of an elongated spout. The matt green mottled glaze imitates the patinated bronze finish of the originals. It also reflects the taste for special glazes on twentieth-century Western pottery, inspired by oriental ceramics.
The copies were made by George Clews & Co Ltd, one of many factories that mass-produced such glazes. The copies were cast in moulds in large numbers and then sold at Gamages department store in Holborn, very close to the Museum. From early on in the Museum's history, iconic objects like the Portland vase or the marble bust of Clytie have been disseminated in popular form. These copies of the Basse-Yutz flagons prove that major museum acquisitions continue to have an immediate effect on contemporary manufactures.
R. Megaw and V. Megaw, The Basse-Yutz find: masterpie (London, Society of Antiquaries of London, 1990)