Dory Water Jug, 1883

This glazed, earthenware jug held drinking water for the use of fishermen working out of small dory boats. The jug, which holds one gallon of liquid and has a cork stopper, was used by cod fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts, before the early 1880s.
Small, flat-bottomed dories were not used in the American commercial cod fishery until after 1850, when trawl-line fishing expanded. Dories were ideal for the purpose: they could be nested together on the deck of the larger, fishing schooner until needed. On the water, they were light and easy to handle, as well as stable. When fishing long trawl lines, fishermen would leave the relative comforts of the schooners to work in pairs as dorymates. Because they were away from the schooners for many hours, the fishermen carried provisions and gear in the dories, including water, food, oars, a mast and sail, anchors, buoys and markers, several trawl tubs, pen boards for holding the fish, several scoops and bailers, fog horns, a compass, and more.
A paper label indicates the jug was displayed at the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition in London. The United States’ portion of the display was organized by the U.S. Fish Commission and included a wealth of gear, models, photographs, fishery products, and everyday objects used by American fishermen. The international exhibition was on view between May 12 and November 1, during which a daily average of 18,545 people toured the buildings and grounds. When the exhibition closed, the collections that represented the United States were sent to the Smithsonian Institution and a catalog was published: Descriptive Catalogues of the Collections Sent from the United States to the International Fisheries Exhibition, London, 1883, Constituting A Report Upon the American Section. Prepared under the direction of G. Brown Goode, U.S. Commissioner, and a staff of associates. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884.
Currently not on view
Object Name
dory jug
Physical Description
clay (overall material)
overall: 9 3/8 in; 23.8125 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Natural Resources
Industry & Manufacturing
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
A. M. Burham

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.