Pitcher, "Poor Jack"

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This creamware pitcher is decorated on each side by transfer prints. The first print is entitled “Poor Jack” and depicts a sailor bidding farewell to a woman, with an anchored ship offshore in the background. A cherub sits atop the ship’s mast. “Poor Jack” is a song written by British musician Charles Dibbin, telling the story of a sailor leaving his love Polly, the perils of a sailor’s life, and his survival thanks to Providence (the cherub on the mast) looking out for him. The second print on the reverse side depicts an American clipper ship under sail. Under the spout is a poetic verse by Edward Rushton referencing the deaths of Continental Army generals Joseph Warren and Richard Montgomery and Washington’s eventual victory. The verse is set in an oval cartouche adorned with iconography of America’s independence including a liberty cap, an American flag, a banner adorned with stars and stripes, and symbols of agriculture and academics. Finally, a river scene is printed under the handle. This jug dates to c.1806 and was made in either Liverpool or Staffordshire, England. Robert H. McCauley purchased this jug from Joseph Kindig, Jr. of York, PA on August 5, 1938 for $30.00.
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
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, earthenware, refined (overall material)
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 11 in x 10 3/4 in x 7 3/4 in; 27.94 cm x 27.305 cm x 19.685 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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