Q. My mom has a pitcher that says “Boston Frigate” on it with initials of the original owner and a poem. My mom says it was bought for a relative, Mary Wilbur, before she was married. She believes it was purchased around 1835 or so. The pitcher measures around 12” high and 7” across the top. It is in excellent condition with no chips.
Inside the pitcher, I found a very old card stating it was bought in Fall River by Daniel Wilbur as a gift for his daughter when she was married in 1837. I am wondering what it would be worth.
A. Your pitcher is referred to as “creamware.” Creamware is refined earthenware that is cream in color and originated in Staffordshire, England. Your pitcher is more commonly known as a “jug” as was most likely made in Liverpool, England around 1800-1825 and it was possibly made by the Herculaneum Pottery Company which competed with Wedgewood, another well known ceramic company. They did a large amount of business with America and many of their works displayed American themes, designs and emblems. Your pitcher is more commonly known as a “jug” due to its larger proportions.
On one side of the jug there is a transfer print of the 24 gun “Boston Frigate” which was commissioned in 1776. The other side has a stanza from the song “Adams and Liberty” written by Robert Treat Paine in 1798 which was the most famous political song of the era. “Whose roots like our liberties, ages have nourished, But long ‘eer our Nation submits to the Yoke” and “Sons of Columbia will not be slaves”. The “Sons of Columbia” refers to the “Sons of the American Revolution.” Columbia was a poetic name used for the United States in the late 1700’s when this song was written.
The front of the jug has an eagle with a striped armorial holding an olive branch and arrows in its talons, with thirteen stars (representing the colonies) arced over its head. Near the spout there is a garland with “M W” scrolled underneath. I cannot say whether or not the “M W” is for Mary Wilbur, this would require quite a bit of research on your family’s genealogy to verify this. I would think this would have been very expensive wedding gift.
Herculaneum “Liverpool” jugs are somewhat rare and are quite valuable. If in good condition, expect to pay around $1000 and up.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter or email with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Attn. Karen Waterman, PO Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.