Pitcher, "The President Commodore Berry"

Pitcher, "The President Commodore Berry"

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This transfer printed creamware pitcher was made by Herculaneum Pottery in Liverpool, England around 1800. The pitcher features transfer print decorations with two common themes. On the front is a polychromed transfer-print of an American sailing ship. It features an American flag with its stars arranged in a circular pattern and is titled “The President, Commodore Berry.” On the reverse is a transfer-print of an obelisk capped with an urn commemorating the life of George Washington. Located at the center of the obelisk is a profile image of Washington. The General is wearing his military uniform and is faced to his right. Above him is a wreath and below him on the obelisk are his birth and death dates. His birthdate is listed as “Feb.y 11 1732” following the Old Style calendar. Also on the obelisk are a shield with stars and stripes and a sword crossed with a palmetto branch. At the base of the monument are a female figure weeping and an eagle with its head down and wings extended. Above and below the transfer print are banners proclaiming, “WASHINGTON IN GLORY / AMERICA IN TEARS.” Under the spout, within a medallion, is the name “R. Moncreafe.” Maritime designs are especially common on English-made transfer printed creamware meant for the American market. Stock prints of ships, like the one on this example, were repeatedly used by English ceramics printers. George Washington is the most common figure depicted on English creamware pitchers of this period. His death in 1799 led to an outpouring of commemorative products celebrating his life and mourning his death. This jug contains a possible misspelling of “Commodore Berry,” as it could refer to John Barry or Oliver Hazard Perry, both officers in the early US Navy. Neither of them commanded the ship “The President,” which was indeed a real ship. Robert H. McCauley purchased it from Parke Bernet Galleries of New York, NY on March 31, 1944 for $60.00.
This pitcher is part of the McCauley collection of American-themed transfer-print pottery designs dating to the early 19th century. The creamware pitchers were imported from Staffordshire County, England when trade boomed between the newly independent United States and the British merchants of Liverpool after the War of 1812. Transfer printing involved placing a freshly inked print onto pottery, transferring the print’s design to the pottery which adhered to the ceramic when fired.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Herculaneum Pottery
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: 10 3/16 in x 9 7/8 in x 7 1/2 in; 25.87625 cm x 25.0825 cm x 19.05 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Government, Politics, and Reform
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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