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Spirit barrel: C.1115-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Production: Bristol Pottery
Decorator: Fifield, William (Probably)




White earthenware barrel, lead-glazed, painted in polychrome enamels with flowers and foliage between horizontal bands, and inscribed with the initials and date, J/E R/1835

White earthenware with slightly blue tinted lead-glaze, painted in blue, green, yellow, pink, red, and maroon enamels. The barrel has a recessed top and base, and bands of horizontal reeding on either side of the plain central zone. On one side there is a projecting rim surrounding the bung hole. The top and base have a pink spot in the centre surrounded by maroon circles of different widths. The reeding on the upper and lower part of the sides is decorated with horizontal maroon bands separating wider bands of pink, green, and pink. The central zone has two arrangements of flowers and foliage, including roses, and a tulip. Around the bung hole, painted in brown script lettering are the initials and dated J/E R/1835.


History note: Sotheby's, 30 November 1928, part of lot 13

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 10.3 cm
Height: 12 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Bristol ⪼ Somerset ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, second quarter#
William IV
Production date: dated AD 1835


Barrels like this are sometimes inscribed Gin or Rum, but they could have held other liquors. On accession this was described as a scent barrel, but that seems an unlikely use on account of its size. The enamel round the spigot is still in pristine condition, which suggests that it may not have been used for long before becoming an ornament.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( blue, green, yellow, pink, red, maroon)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: J above bung hole, E to left, R to right, and 1835 below

  • Text: J/ER /1835
  • Location: On side on either side of the bung hole
  • Method of creation: Painted in enamel
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1115-1928
Primary reference Number: 71338
Old object number: R.1898
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 25 February 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 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) "Spirit barrel" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-21 11:17:55

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{{cite web|url= |title=Spirit barrel |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-21 11:17:55|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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