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Sunderland ship jug: C.1089-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Sunderland ship jug


Factory: Dawson's Pottery (Possibly)
Factory: Scott Brothers & Co (Possibly)




White earthenware, transfer-printed in black with text and images, and painted with enamels and pink lustre.

Bulbous body tapering slightly to a projecting foot, with cylindrical neck, curved lip and loop handle. Decorated on the body with three reserves in a mottled-pink lustred ground, which also covers the outside of the neck. There are a band of pink lustre around the inside of the rim and pink-lustre marks on the handle. Each reserve is transfer-printed and over-painted with red and green enamels, also with yellow and blue-grey enamel in the central reserve. The underside is flat and glazed, with a raised foot-rim.

The images and text are as follows:
(i) under the lip: a ship in full sail flanked by a sailor and a woman holding an anchor, personifying ‘Hope’.
(ii) a garland enclosing a verse: ‘This world is a good one to live in/To lend, to spend, to buy, or give in/But to beg, borrow, or get a mans own/It is such a world as never was known’
(iii) a garland enclosing the verse: ‘We Sailors are born for all Weathers/Great Guns let them blow high blow low/Our duty keeps us to our Tethers/And where the Gale drives we must go.’


History note: Billson collection until 1908. Sold at Sotheby’s 21 December 1908, lot 120, with two other Sunderland jugs, for 10 shillings. Bought by Mr S. Fenton for Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 18.6 cm
Width: 23 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Sunderland ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Early#
Circa 1820 CE - Circa 1840 CE


Sunderland potteries were particularly known for their use of thinly hand-painted lustre, before the glaze firing, together with hand-painted transfer-prints which feature designs, verses and mottos. The designs usually have local or topical relevance and often allude to seafaring. Mottled-pink lustre is also associated with Sunderland. Sometimes called ‘splashed lustre’, the effect is produced by spraying fine drops of oil onto still-wet lustre, which leaves the surface mottled when the oil burns away during firing.

The texts on this jug are both traditional English verses and their reproduction in contemporary anthologies and magazines attests to their popularity around 1820-40. The verse ‘We sailors are born for all weathers’ comes from a sailors’ song ‘The Tar for all Weathers’ about sailors battling a gale near Gibraltar, printed in ‘Hodgson's national songster’, 1832. The writer Washington Irving records seeing a slightly varied version of the rhyme ‘This world…’, on an inn window, in ‘Tales of a Traveller’, 1824; it also appeared in the monthly journal ‘The Nic-Nac’ the same year.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lustre ( pink) ceramic printing colour enamel

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: No 2987 Sunderland jug, with a ship on the front, and a ship [...] on the other side. b. Sotherb's Dec. 21 1908
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Rectangular paper label handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1089-1928
Primary reference Number: 71294
Old object number: 2987
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Thursday 7 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) "Sunderland ship jug" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-26 00:11:39

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