Pitcher, "Thomas Jefferson"

This earthenware pitcher is decorated with a transfer print portrait of Thomas Jefferson on one side and a poem to Liberty on the other. The portrait of Jefferson is surrounded by a laurel wreath entwined with ribbon bearing names of the first fifteen states. Over the portrait is “Thomas Jefferson” while “President of the United States of America” is underneath. The poem is encircled by a ribbon bearing the names of fifteen states scrolling around fifteen stars. The poem is a stanza borrowed from Joseph Addison’s “A Letter From Italy To The Right Honourable Charles Lord Halifax.” It reads: “O Liberty thou Goddess! / heav’nly bright, / Profuse of bliss / and pregnant with delight. / Eternal pleasures / in thy presence reign. / and smiling plenty leads / thy wanton train.” The pitcher is signed by F. Morris Shelton, a Staffordshire potter operating in the early 19th century. Robert H. McCauley purchased this pitcher from Ginsberg and Levy for $110.00.
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
Object Name
Physical Description
monochrome, black (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, earthenware, refined (overall material)
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 7 3/4 in x 8 in; 19.685 cm x 20.32 cm
overall: 7 3/4 in x 8 in x 5 3/8 in; 19.685 cm x 20.32 cm x 13.6525 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, Liverpool
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Government, Politics, and Reform
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
Additional Media

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