An unrecorded documentary inscribed and dated blue and white London delft tankard
An unrecorded documentary inscribed and dated blue and white London delft tankard


An unrecorded documentary inscribed and dated blue and white London delft tankard
1638, probably Pickleherring Quay pottery, Southwark
Of straight-sided tapering form with loop handle, the rim inscribed DILVCVLO BIBERE SALVBERRIMUM EST . SI MOD above a broad band of 'bird-on-a-rock' decoration with insects and birds in flight and perching on rocks on a ground of stylised flowers, foliage and scrolls, the base inscribed M WI SEP: THE 9<->th_ ANNO DOM 1638 (two short hairline cracks, slight glaze cracks to interior, glaze flakes and slight chipping to rims and terminal of handle)
5 in. (14 cm.) high

Lot Essay

This previously unrecorded mug is a significant addition to the corpus of wares attributed to Christian Wilhelm's workshop at Pickleherring Quay at Southwark in London. We owe much to the scholarship of Hugh Tait of the British Museum for his work on the background of the man and his products. Although previous scholars had been aware of Wilhelm's early appearance on the London potting scene it was Tait, in his two articles for The Connoisseur (see below), who drew together the facts and presented a possible chronology of his output, relying on the then known dated pieces in both public and private collections.

The earliest account of Christian Wilhelm in London was in 1617 in the records of St. Olave's Parish, Southwark where he is described as a 'member of the Dutch Congregation in London'; another entry records him as 'Christian Willems, vinaigremaker' (sic.). By 1618 he is shown (in the Return of Aliens in the Parish of St. Olave) to be 'Christian Whelhames, gally pot maker and aquivtay styller' (gally pots or galliware are contemporary terms for pottery or porcelain intended for domestic use. The term derives from the fact that porcelain was imported into Europe in ships - 'galleys'). Three further documents (1622, 1624 and 1625) survive indicating the site of his workshop on the waterside. By 1628 he petitions the King to make smalt, of which he claims he was the inventor, although a certain Abraham Baker had been granted the patent, and also 'to be sworn the King's servant for making galliware'. He was rewarded with the grant within six months and became 'the sole manufacturer of Galleyware in England, for fourteen years...', i.e. until 1642), however his petition for making smalt was not granted. Of the early pieces made during Wilhelm's monopoly there is a signifcant corpus of dated pieces, many decorated with the characteristic 'bird-on-a-rock' design so typical of the Kraak porselein dishes being imported into Europe at the time.
This mug has close similarities both in form and decoration to the mug in the Museum of London (MoL no. A. 6807) inscribed JAMES & ELIZABETH GREENE ANNO 1630 THE GIFT IS SMALL GOODWILL IS ALL. The inscriptions on the present mug (DILVCVLO BIBERE SALVBERRIMUM. SI MOD and on the base M W.I SEP T-E 9<->th_ ANNO DOM 1638) appear to be by the same hand. Wilhelm died in 1630 and the pottery was inherited by his son-in-law Thomas Townsend, by which time there were eight other potters. The Parish Registers of St. Olave's Southwark are lost for the dates January 1627/8 to October 1639, so the elusive marriage of September 9th 1638 is not traceable. However there is a christening of a Walter Manneringe at St. Olave's on 30th January 1641. The Manneringes or Manarings are associated with the Pickleherring site. Another Walter Manaring was baptised at St. Olave's 1 Decmeber 1648 (Cf. Rhoda Edwards 'London Potteries circa 1570-1710', Journal of Ceramic History, no. 6, 1974, p. 84). Is it possible that this childs' mother, Jane, married a certain Walter Mannering and this was their marriage gift from the workshop?

For a detailed discussion on Christian Wilhelm and the Pickleherring site, see Hugh Tait, 'Southwark (Alias Lambeth) Delftware and the Potter Christian Wilhelm: 1 and 2' The Connoisseur, August 1960 pp. 36-42, and February 1961, pp. 22-29. See also Frank Britton, London Delftware (1987), pp. 35 and 36, and pls. 30, 31 and col. pl. C.

Cf. the tall cylindrical dated mug of 1630 sold in these Rooms, 9 April 1984, lot 55, and a wine-bottle of 1628 from the Rous Lench Collection, sold in these Rooms 29 & 30 May 1990, lot 13.


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