Pitcher, "Firemen"

This transfer printed creamware pitcher is decorated with prints related to volunteer fire fighting. The pitcher is decorated on one side of with an image of a hand-pumped fire engine. The other side depicts the hand-pumped engine in action fighting a fire in a blazing building. Under the spout is a oval with floral decorations that reads “The Property of Engine No. 2.” This pitcher is a bit unusual as it lacks typical naval or patriotic themes. However, volunteer firefighters were prominent organizations in early American history, with many high profile members in colonial communities, and it would not be unusual for a ship’s captain to be a member and bring back a pitcher for his fire company to celebrate its efforts.
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: 13 1/4 in x 11 1/2 in; 33.655 cm x 29.21 cm
overall: 13 3/16 in x 12 3/8 in x 7 3/4 in; 33.49625 cm x 31.4325 cm x 19.685 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, Liverpool
ID Number
catalog number
collector/donor number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
Cultures & Communities
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
Additional Media

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