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Jug with vine, hops & barley relief: C.46-1981

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Jug with vine, hops & barley relief


Production: Ridgway & Abington
William Ridgway & Co




Pale greenish-grey, relief moulded, smear-glazed, stoneware.

Press-moulded jug with relief decoration and standing on a narrow dodecagonal base. The sides of the jug spread out towards a high shoulder and a cylindrical neck, which flares towards the rim and spout. The sides are decorated with six oval strapwork panels, each containing, in turn, the leaves and fruit of vines, hops and barley or corn. Below each panel is an oval shield flanked by foliate scrolls. A strapwork border runs around the neck. The handle is angular, with scrollwork decoration. The outside is smear glazed; the interior is fully glazed and shiny. The underside is recessed and smear-glazed.


History note: Countess Shelagh S. Rietberg, Cambridge

Legal notes

Given by Countess Shelagh S. Rietberg, Cambridge, 1981

Measurements and weight

Height: 19 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Hanley ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1981) by Rietberg, Shelagh, Countess


Mid-19th Century
Circa 1848 CE - 1850 CE


In October 1849 the Art Journal noted that Ridgway & Abington ‘are famous for their manufacture of water and beer jugs, which are, in almost all cases, admirable examples of design and execution’. However, a reviewer in the March-August 1849 Journal of Design and Manufactures was less complimentary about this jug’s design, writing: 'The principal defects of form are, that the curve of the lower portion is rather high shouldered, and that the handle is surprisingly ugly. The whole surface is a little too uniformly covered with enrichment, and in some places the lines are rather too crowded and huddled together. The ornament, consisting of hop, vine, and barley, is, however, prettily modelled’. He also felt the architectural regularity of the panels was at odds with ‘the artistic mode of production’ on the potter’s wheel.

Relief moulded jugs were popular in mid 19th Century homes. The smear-glazing makes the most of the way that colour-stained clays show off crisply-moulded ornament, whilst the stoneware would be durable in an everyday setting. There are several examples in the Fitzwilliam Collection. Here, the jug’s vine and hop design indicates its function as a jug for a jug for beer or wine. The same jug was made in buff and white stoneware.

The Ridgway family produced stoneware and porcelain in Staffordshire from the 1790s until the 20th Century. Trained by their father, Job, the brothers William and John already had a reputation for drab (coloured) stoneware decorated with applied relief sprigs when William Ridgway established Church Works, Hanley, in 1831. He was also a noted philanthropist, building alms houses and a school for local children – many of whom he employed in his potteries. With his partner James Leonard Abington and (later) his son Edward, by 1843 he operated six pot-works in Hanley and Shelton. The business became known for its relief-moulded jugs, for which it is likely that Abington was the modeller, and was re-named Ridgway & Abington in 1845. One of the first to offer such jugs, in the early 1830s, they produced some 26 designs over the next 30 years. Other potters followed, notably Minton and Charles Meigh, and relief moulded jugs (some with ceramic or metal lids) in a wide variety of design became a popular household mainstay for water, beer milk and other liquids which might now be kept in bottles, cans or plastic jars.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Shoulder To Handle Width 14 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Press moulded, smear glazed stoneware; glazed interior.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Diamond shape with 'Rd' in the centre, 'w' in the left corner, 'u' in the top corner, '7' in the right corner, and 'I' in the bottom corner. Above the diamond a small circle with 'IV'.

  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Moulded with the body
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: 21
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: two small parallel lines

  • Text: 'll'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.46-1981
Primary reference Number: 75185
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 1 February 2022

Associated departments & institutions

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

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