Pitcher, "Dr. John Hart"

<< >>
The creamware pitcher is decorated with two transfer print designs. One print features a pastoral scene depicting shepherds, fishermen, and goats near a temple overgrown with weeds. The other side of the pitcher depicts a variety Freemasonry symbols, such as the All Seeing Eye, Square and Compasses, Moon and Seven Stars, and Checkered Floor. Prominent members of 18th century society were often Freemasons, and many masonic themes are found on creamware pitchers of this era. Under the spout is the name “Dr. John Hart” in a medallion made of Masonic symbols. Masonic imagery is commonly found on English creamware meant for the American market. “Memento Mori,” translated as “Remember that you must die,” is meant to convey mortality. “Vide Aude Tace” translates to “See, Hear, Be Silent.” While “Sit Lux Et Lux Fuit” translates to “Let there be light, and there was light,” referring to the Book of Genesis, chapter 1.
Dr. John Hart was born in 1751 in Massachusetts. He served as a regimental surgeon during the Revolutionary War. He was the surgeon for the Second Massachusetts Regiment commanded by Ebenezer Sprout. In 1778 he married Mary Gould. Following the War, Hart worked as a physician, accumulated wealth, and settled down in Reading, Massachusetts. Hart purchased the Hartshorne house in 1792 as an investment property. He also placed an addition onto the house. Hart used it as an inn while the second floor was used by the Mt. Moriah Masonic Lodge as meeting space. Hart himself was a Mason. Perhaps this jug3 was a gift from the Lodge for use of the house. It is obvious that Dr. Hart owned this jug, but it is unclear how he acquired it. This jug was probably made in Liverpool between 1795 and 1800. Robert H. McCauley purchased this from the Boston Antique Shop on October 29, 1938 for $60.00.
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
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
monochrome, black (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, earthenware, refined (overall material)
overall: 11 1/8 in x 10 3/4 in x 7 1/2 in; 28.2575 cm x 27.305 cm x 19.05 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


Add a comment about this object