Antiques Column: Moulded jug had largely had its day

The jug is an amazing vessel. In times gone by it was the heart of any home.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 6:00 am
Victorian Jugs.

Before gas, electricity and mains drainage the jug was there, carrying for everyone. Milk for the family’s needs, beer for them all to drink, water for them all to wash, to name but a few.

After gas, electricity and mains drainage and in fact after radio, television, the internet and the mobile phone the good old jug is still there. It isn’t quite the heart of the home as it used to be, but in many circles it is avidly collected. For me the heyday was the moulded jug of the 19th century.

A few years before Victoria came to the throne moulded jugs had developed into an art form. Almost every potter of the time began producing them and on the whole all followed each other as the moulded jug developed and changed throughout the century.

The jugs of the 1830s were moulded in a crisp and deep relief. Apart from a few angular exceptions the body was generally round. In terms of decoration, this was a period when designs and inspirations seemed limitless. Hunting scenes were popular, as were religious, mythological, historical and even drinking themes. But inspiration was also found in books, poems and art.

By the latter part of the 1840s the earlier distinctive pedestal foot had become a foot rim and the lip was a little less flared. The body was still essentially round and the relief had become more shallow. The new trend in design was naturalistic plant life, with some jugs being completely covered, examples being the Cob of Corn jug and the Pine Cone jug.

By the 1860s the relief was very shallow and the naturalistic designs were replaced with stylised flowers and foliage. By the time, towards the end of the century, the Art Nouveau style had arrived the moulded jug had largely had its day.