Salt glazed Stew Jar

A few weeks ago I saw this pot in a charity shop. I recognised it as a piece of salt glazed stoneware, probably from some time in the second half of the eighteen hundreds, the lid was missing and it had a very large crack in it but for its approximate 130 years of age it wasn’t looking too bad. It was unmarked but most items that old are. I ‘umed’ and ‘arred’ and left it. When I came into work after the weekend I had a look through Denby 1809 – 1997. Suspecting that the pot was a version of a Denby ‘No 5 Stew Jar’ glazed in ‘fire proof brown’ I went back to the shop and bought it. The advisement shown here is dated 1904 but production of these items started decades before that.

I showed the pot to the Design team and some one mentioned that they thought they had seen the same handle on some other Denby items and that there might be an old mould of it in our historic mould store… I went for a ‘rummage’ and came up trumps. I think the mould was for a different size version of the handle but all the details were exactly the same. Although there were some discrepancies I was now convinced it was a Denby Stew Jar. The differences were:

I needed a second opinion and there was only one person to go to: Lin Salt: Company Secretary for more years than I’m allowed to put in writing, curator of the Denby museum, organiser of the Denby collectors club talks and general Denby fanatic. If anyone could help me with any further information it would be Lin.

She wasn’t sure…Was the body colour exactly right? Possibly not, there is also some evidence on the pot that shows how it was stacked in the kiln when it was fired, not a stacking method that is recorded as being used here at Denby Pottery.

So what of my conclusive evidence with regards to the information in the book and the handle mould. Well, in a time long before any intellectual property or copy rights companies used to copy each other all the time. If you look at examples from Brampton pottery for example there are many parallels with wares that were made here over the years. What of the handle mould then…? even with examples as early as this one handle and sprig moulds could have been bought from specialist suppliers selling to a number of potties, a credible theory in an area with so much pottery production going on.

The providence of some pots can be conclusively determined. Exactly where my pot comes from can’t be proven. It is almost certainly from the Derbyshire area and made in the late 19th or early 20th century. Any more detail than that has lost to the midst of time, so it becomes about belief. I like to think that my pot was made here at Denby in because that connects me to it in some way; it’s like bringing it home! Perhaps it was made as early as 1880 and used for many years to make hearty stews on an open fire. That is what they were for originally, and that is why the finish was called fire proof brown. I’m going to turn a lid for it in wood and use it as a store jar.

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