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Silver lustre jar and lid: C.1175 & A-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Silver lustre jar and lid


Unidentified factory




Dark red-brown earthenware, thrown and moulded then dipped in silver (platinum) lustre.

Jar or sugar basin with straight sloping sides. Domed cover with flat circle in the centre and a raised, flat knob. The underside is flat with a narrow foot-rim. Both parts entirely coated with silver lustre.


History note: Bought from Mr Black, Praed Street, Paddington on 19 June 1907, for 30/- (one pound ten shillings), by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest, 1928

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 10.2 cm
Height: 10.8 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, first half#
Circa 1820 CE - 1840 CE


All over lustring was widely used to imitate Georgian silver, enabling the less well-off to enjoy ‘silver’ tea services, salt & pepper pots, candlesticks and similar items. From c1840, however, production dwindled with the introduction of relatively cheap electro-plating. Copper lustre coating was also popular in the 1830s, though was more often combined with other decorating techniques.

Dr Glaisher bought this sugar basin with a milk jug from the same set and was offered (though declined) some matching tea-cups. He writes ‘these pieces struck me as worth purchasing on account of their excellence in form and colour. I greatly prefer pieces of silver that show large plain areas (to those covered with embossed work) and these seem especially good in silver lustre’.

English lustreware was commercially produced from c.1805 and popular throughout the first half of the 19th Century. Staffordshire potters were the first and largest producers, though similar wares were also made in other regions and pink lustreware is often particularly associated with Sunderland. Minute amounts of gold were used to produce copper, gold, pink or purple lustre, depending on the type of clay, lustre formula, number of layers and firing temperature; platinum was used to mimic silver. Silver lustre was produced by dissolving platinum in aqua regia (nitric and hydrochloric acids) suspended in a resinous medium such as spirits of tar. Pots were dipped in the lustre solution to produce an even all-over coating and then fired at a low temperature, which burned the medium away to leave a ‘silver’ surface. Most lustreware was made for everyday use, and factory markings are rare.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lustre ( silver (platinum))

Materials used in production

Red earthenware

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1175 & A-1928
Primary reference Number: 71457
Old object nimber: 2644
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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Silver lustre jar and lid" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-22 16:07:50

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