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The Sailor's Return Pitcher The Sailor's Return Pitcher

"The Sailor's Return" Pitcher
Liverpool, England, c. 1800.
The Mariners' Museum


This small creamware pitcher (7 inches tall by 8.5 inches wide) depicts the joy of a sailor returning home to his wife. The life of a sailor, especially in the navy, was hard—cramped conditions, harsh punishments for disobedience, long hours and years of service, and the constant threat of disease or attack. A pitcher like this may have been purchased by a sailor for his wife upon his return to shore. The poem on the pitcher reads:

"I now the joys of life renew
From cares and trouble free
And find a wife who's kin and true
to drive lifes cares away"

The back of the pitcher has an image of a British frigate, a common type of British warship. The images on both sides of the pitcher were placed using transfer printing, in which an inked, engraved plate is pressed onto paper and removed, and then the paper is pressed onto the glazed pottery and removed, transfering the ink.

Creamware was English ceramic producers' attempt to mimic Chinese porcelain, the process for which was kept secret. Creamware reached the height of its popularity from about 1760–1775, when pearlware, which was whiter, came into fashion. Creamware continued to be produced until about 1820, and as it fell out of fashion, it became cheaper and thus more accessible to the middle and lower classes. Adding to its accessibility was mass production, a process employed by Josiah Wedgwood to make large amounts of creamware for export to the colonies.

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