Child’s transferware proverb mug, c.1820

It’s obvious why there are so many early children’s ceramics with inventive repairs. Before the invention of bakelite and plastic, children used smaller versions of adult sized ceramics, and their little hands could barely hold these fragile vessels, especially when filled with hot liquids. So could you really blame these poor innocents when many a mug, plate and glass slipped away, ending up shattered on the floor?

This child’s mug is clearly titled with the 16th century English proverb “MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES” and has brown transfer decoration of a farming scene with a pink lustre ring along the rim. It was made in the Staffordshire region of England in the first quarter of the 19th century and measures 2.25 inches high. After the handle broke off, it was taken to a tinker who fashioned an ear shaped metal replacement handle and support bands. A triangular piece from another cup was patched in along the top to replace a lost chip. In my humble opinion, the repairs add character to this wounded survivor, making it much more interesting than a “perfect” one.

This mug with identical form and decoration shows what the original handle on mine would have looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

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4 Responses to “Child’s transferware proverb mug, c.1820”

  1. Jonathan Rickard says:

    The only identified potter to have made ear-shaped handles is William Greatbatch of Fenton, Staffs. Perhaps this tinsmith was a Greatbatch.

  2. Larry Terricone says:

    Welcome back. You were missed. And welcome back with a real treasure.

  3. David Cohn says:

    Nice to have you back and molto interesting as always.

  4. Diane Lindgren says:

    So glad you’re back. I was missing and wondering about your posts. Thanks for helping to make the world more interesting.

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