Pitcher, "Captn Nathl Gunnison"

Pitcher, "Captn Nathl Gunnison"

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This large creamware pitcher is decorated a polychromed transfer print of an American sailing ship. On the reverse is a print of a monument commemorating Washington’s death surrounded by a chain of states which omits Vermont and Rhode Island, but includes Kentucky. The monument is an obelisk decorated with the All Seeing Eye and the phrase “First in war, first in peace, first in fame, first in virtue.” Various figures are shown mourning at the monument. Under the spout is the statement, “A present to Capt.n Nath.l Gunnison.” Under the handle are two printed flowers and black ink accents the handle, spout, lip, and base of this jug. 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, and given as gifts to Captains of merchant ships like Nathaniel Gunnison. Aside from generic maritime themes, 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. Robert H. McCauley purchased this jug from Joseph Kindig, Jr. of York, PA on August 5, 1938 for $100.00 as part of the William Randolph Hearst Collection.
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
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: 12 in x 12 in x 9 in; 30.48 cm x 30.48 cm x 22.86 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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