Ceramics and Glass Specialist Caroline Dennard has an interesting jug being sold in our next fine auction.
Any piece of pottery or porcelain which is inscribed with a name is sure to lead me on a magical mystery tour of research and discovery. Although admittedly, my endeavours to find out more about the person who once owned it can sometimes prove fruitless, I’m delighted to say the history of this particular jug is not completely elusive.
Made in Jackfield, Broseley, in an area which has a history of potting families dating back to 1720, this jug is just one of the many pieces of the vitrified black-glazed red earthenware produced in this region from around 1760 onward. Not only is this painted with some of the nicest flower painting I have seen on pottery of this type, it is also adorned with a cartouche bearing the name ‘C Guest’.
So, who was this? An examination of Shropshire Land Tax Records from 1798 places a ‘C Guest Snr’ living in a house at The Knowle in Jackfield. Perhaps even more excitingly, his fellow housemate was none other than Edward Blakeway himself. As a master potter, Blakeway had a number of important business concerns in Shropshire, including shares in the Willey Ironworks, a partnership producing pottery in Jackfield from 1783 and ultimately the purchase of the Caughley porcelain site in 1799. Indeed, before Blakeway’s contributions to developments in earthenware manufacture, it appears that very little was added to production processes developed in and around the area.
Unfortunately, the trail to find out more ends there and there are no other records of Guest. Was he a friend of Blakeway, perhaps a worker at one of his business ventures – or merely a visiting lodger? Sadly, the truth of that will probably have to be left to the imagination, but nevertheless it is more than likely this jug was handed over as a personal gift from one of Shropshire’s most important 18th century ceramicists.