Puzzle Jug, Buttons, Soil Hill Pottery, Halifax, Yorkshire, England, Late 19th Century
A rare and splendid traditional Halifax puzzle jug from the historic West Riding of Yorkshire, complete with the legend “From Mother Earth I claim my birth, I am made a joke for man. Now I’m here, filled with good cheer, come taste me if you can”.
After the making and construction of these time-consuming pots, which required a skilled pair of hands and was carried out in stages, the puzzle jug, here with its five spouts was immersed in liquid white clay (slip). When this coat of slip had stiffened, the traditional pottery verse would be scratched into the surface, exposing the contrasting red clay underneath, a technique known as sgraffito. When all these processes were finished, the pot would be carefully dried, immersed in a highly-fluxing raw lead and clay glaze then once-fired in a large kiln, taking several days to fire and cool, the whole process taking several weeks.
A Brief History of Soil Hill
Soil Hill Pottery, which at 1300 feet above sea level constituted wild windswept moorland heights, exposed to gales and all manner of extreme weather, summer and winter. The Button family worked the Soil Hill Pottery continuously for three generations from the last quarter of the 19th c. through to the mid-1960s. Before them, from the mid-18th century, there were three generations of the Catherall’s, a pottery family from Buckley, North Wales, wanting to take advantage of the rapidly expanding markets in the West Riding of Yorkshire, including Halifax, Bradford and Leeds, during the Industrial Revolution.
All these generations of potters over centuries from around the Halifax region produced superb, inspirational decorated slipwares and utilitarian items, which are now rightly and justifiably recognised as some of the finest works of pottery folk art in Britain.
Late 19th-early 20th century
5.75’’h x 7’’w O/A approx (inclusive of handle)
In superb condition, with only minor professional restoration to two very small stress cracks at base of handle (occurred in firing) but never been broken, and one of the small slip dots on rim.
Reference – Peter Brears – The Collectors Book of English Country Pottery
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Ref Number: 221041A