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Antiques Considered - August 3, 2011

A writer from Maryland has written describing her Scottish stoneware jug, which she recently received as a gift from her uncle.  The uncle's father, then a U.S. Coast Guard officer recovered the jug when it washed ashore in the 1930s on Parramore Island off the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  At the time he was stationed on the island.

When he found it, the jug was encased in a wicker basket, which later deteriorated after being left in a storage area with a dirt floor.  The piece bears the imprint of Possil Pottery and the number "4", which almost certainly designates the number of gallons it holds.  It is 19 inches tall.

In the nineteenth century the Possil Pottery produced these jugs for the vibrant Scottish whiskey market.  Obviously, it could be used only once,

and then discarded, as many such pieces were.  Inasmuch as the piece would be quite heavy, the wicker casing must have had sufficient buoyancy to keep it afloat.  Perhaps some crew members on a ship headed toward America "got into the sauce", and upon finishing their happy hour, threw the jug overboard?

 

The mystery as to its washing ashore on Parramore Island, will remain, but the value of the jug is not so mysterious.  It is a fine piece of stoneware, in perfect condition without chips or cracks, and with excellent coloration with the tan base and ochre top.  It is worth $250; sadly the wicker has been lost, as it would have added to the value significantly. Were this a Shenandoah Valley four-gallon jug, originally intended for moonshine, the value would be many times higher.
 

This jug is an interesting reflection of the late nineteenth-century Scottish whisky production and the export of same to the New World.  It is a fine example of the trade at the height of the British Empire, when Britannia ruled the waves.
 

Happy Antiquing!

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