British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 24.000 cm
Purchased with the assistance of the
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
The jug, probably Antwerp, Holland, around AD
The mounts, London, England, AD 1581-2
Etienne Perlin, a French visitor to London in the 1550s, noted that the English drink beer 'not in glasses but in earthenware pots with silver handles and covers'. Earthenware remains porous after firing, and earthenware vessels that intended to contain liquid are covered with a glaze. This tankard is one of a number of surviving mounted tin-glazed earthenware pots of bulbous form, with a mottled glaze in brown, blue and purple. It was used in the church at West Malling, Kent until sold in 1903, and consequently all tankards of this type with English mounts dating from the sixteenth century are known as 'Malling jugs'.
The actual origin of the 'Malling jugs' has been something of a puzzle. However, as a result of recent archaeological discoveries and current scientific analysis, it is now thought that these jugs were made in the Low Countries (modern-day Holland, Belgium and northern France), in the Antwerp area, for the London market. Trade between the Low Countries and the southern and eastern counties of England was especially vigorous. The strapwork, figures and foliate ornamental motifs on the mounts are characteristic of English Tudor silver.
This 'Malling jug' has silver-gilt mounts with a London hallmark for 1581-2, and a maker's mark of a fleur-de-lis. The hinge box is engraved with the initials of a husband and wife 'WHE'
, 'Recent acquisitions of post-medieval ceramics and glass in the British Museum's Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities (1982-88)', Burlington Magazine-5 (August 1988)
P. Glanville, Silver in Tudor and Early Stua (London, 1990)