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Punch pot: C.1051 & A-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Pottery: Indio Pottery (Probably)
Pottery: Unidentified Yorkshire or Staffordshire Pottery (Possibly)




Dark cream earthenware, lead-glazed, and painted in reddish-brown and black enamel, and inscribed ‘Prosperity to the Worthey Town of Totnes’, initialled 'DB' and dated '1768'

Dark cream earthenware, the body thrown, with an applied spout, and handle with press-moulded terminals, lead-glazed and painted in reddish-brown and black enamels, and gilt on the edges (mostly worn away). The pot has a bulbous oval body with a slightly projecting lower edge, a curved upward tilting spout with two curved lines incised on each side, and a double entwined handle with upper and lower flower and leaf terminals. The edge of the base and the mouth are encircled by a rouletted band of closely-set short lines. There are twenty-five holes in an asymmetrical arrangement in the wall behind the spout. The circular cover is very slightly convex with a rouletted edge to match the pot, and has a knob with capstan-shaped lower part and a stepped and domed top with a central boss. On each side of the pot there is an oval panel with a scalloped and scrolled edge enclosing the inscription 'Prosperity to the/Worthey Town /of Totnes', painted in black. Below the handle there is a scalloped oval panel enclosing the date '1768', and under the spout, a circular medallion enclosing the initials 'DB'. The rest of the surface of the pot and its cover are decorated overall with a reddish-brown and black scale or pebbled pattern. The handle, spout and knob are reddish-brown, and the rouletted edges bear traces of gilding.


History note: Mr Stewart Acton, Brighton from whom purchased on 13 September 1924 for £7.10s.0d. by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.7 cm
Length: 39.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Bovey Tracey ⪼ Devonshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


18th Century, third quarter#
George III
Production date: dated AD 1768


Punch pots are much less common than punch bowls, and do not appear to have been made before the second half of the 18th century. They look like giant teapots, but their use for punch is evidenced by a Liverpool porcelain punch pot made by Seth or John Pennington's factory, c. 1780-90, and decorated with an outdoor social gathering in which a punch pot can be seen on a table. A pot of this size would have looked extremely out of place on a drawing room tea table. Tea was heavily taxed and teapots were usually small. Some punch pots are distinguishable from teapots by their decoration. For example, an enamelled salt-glazed stoneware example of c. 1760 in the Potteries Museum, Hanley (inv. no. 2287,1164), is decorated with Bacchus seated astride a barrel, indicating its use for alcoholic liquor. A few of the pots are distinguishable from teapots in not having a group of small holes behind the spout to emit the tea, but inhibit the flow of tea leaves. However, that is not always the case. This pot has twenty-five holes, but its large size, indicates that it was probably intended for punch.

Punch probably took its name from the Urdu, panch, meaning five. Punch recipes often included five ingredi¬ents: an alco¬holic liquor (usually red wine, brandy or rum), lemon, spices, sugar and hot water. It was enjoyed by English mer¬chants in the East by the 1630s, but was not widely known in England until Charles II's reign (1660-85). Punch soon became popular with all classes of society and rem¬ained so until the nineteenth century. Recipes for it can be seen in many published and hand-written recipe books of that period. Both men and women drank it, but the typical punch party was an male gathering.

When Dr J.W.L. Glaisher bought this punch pot he thought it had characteristics of Leeds Pottery, but was aware that the date was before the founding of the pottery. Given the inscription, it seems possible that the pot was made at Bovey Tracey in Devon, but the attribution is not conclusive because the date is early for creamware made there. The initials DB may stand for Daniel Barstowe who was a burgess or freeman of the Borough of Totnes.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( reddish-brown and black) gold

Materials used in production

dark cream Earthenware

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Prosperity to the/WortheyTown/of Totnes
  • Location: On both sides of pot
  • Method of creation: Painted in black enamel
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: within an circular outline

  • Text: DB
  • Location: Under spout
  • Method of creation: Painted in black enamel
  • Type: Initials

Inscription present: within a scalloped oval outline

  • Text: 1768
  • Location: Under handle
  • Method of creation: Painted in black enamel
  • Type: Date

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1051 & A-1928
Primary reference Number: 71230
Old object number: 4437
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 3 June 2022 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Punch pot" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-24 23:10:36

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