Pitcher, "Commodore Prebles"

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This creamware pitcher is decorated with transfer prints related to Edward Preble of the United States Navy. Printed on the front is a portrait of “Commodore Preble” surrounded by an American flag, a shield, and an Native American. A herald with a trumpet floats above the portrait. Printed under the spout is the Great Seal of the United States. Finally, on the reverse is a print of “Commodore Prebles Squadron attacking the city of Tripoli Aug 3 1804.” Below the scene is a description: “The American Squadron under Commodore Preble Consisting of the constitution of 44 guns 2 brigs 3 / schooners 2 bombs and 6 gun boats attacking the city and harbour of Tripoli Aug 3 1804 the city was defended / by batteries mounting 115 pieces of heavy cannon and the harbour by 19 gun boats 2 brigs 2 schooners 2 gallies / and a zebeck the city received great damage several of the tripolitan vessels were sunk 3 of their gun boats taken and a great / number of men killed.” The portrait of Preble on this pitcher is based on an engraving by Thomas Dixon of Liverpool done in 1805.
Edward Preble was born at Falmouth, Maine in 1761. He served as low level naval officer during the Revolutionary War. In 1799, during the Quasi-War with France, he was commissioned as a captain and given command of the frigate Essex. Preble became famous during the War with Tripoli. In 1803, with the USS Constitution as his flagship, Preble led a naval squadron to the Mediterranean. He planned Stephen Decatur’s heroic expedition to burn the Philadelphia and carried out five separate attacks on Tripoli in August and September of 1804. Lauded for his gallant service, Preble received a gold medal from Congress in 1806. Preble died in 1807.
Robert H. McCauley purchased this jug from Joseph Kindig, Jr. of York, PA on August 5, 1938 for $100.00. This pitcher is part of the McCauley collection of American themed transfer print pottery. There is no mark on the pitcher to tell us who made it, but it is characteristic of wares made in large volume for the American market in both Staffordshire and Liverpool between 1790 and 1820. Pitchers of this shape, with a cream colored glaze over a pale earthenware clay, known as Liverpool type, were the most common vessels to feature transfer prints with subjects commemorating events and significant figures in the early decades of United States’ history. Notwithstanding the tense relationship between Britain and America, Liverpool and Staffordshire printers and potters seized the commercial opportunity offered them in the production of transfer printed earthenwares celebrating the heroes, the military victories, and the virtues of the young republic, and frequently all of these things at once.
Currently not on view
place made
United Kingdom: England, Liverpool
Physical Description
ceramic, earthenware, creamware (overall material)
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 9 1/2 in x 10 in x 6 1/4 in; 24.13 cm x 25.4 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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