‘We makes our pots of what we potters are, no harts can with the potters harts compare,’ reads the inscription on one side of this pretty 18th-century creamware tea canister.

The verse, incised in scratch-blue decoration, is dated May 10, 1777, beneath the words ‘Swansea potwork’. Given this precise date and place of origin it is possible to confirm that this is one of only 14 known surviving objects made at Swansea Potworks between the founding of the business in 1764 and the death of its owner, William Coles, in 1778. It is also one of only three objects predating the late 1780s, which is inscribed with the pottery’s name, making it an extremely rare example of early Welsh industrial ceramics. The canister was probably decorated by George Ridgway. (It has been compared to another canister known to have been incised with his handwriting.) ‘When this you see remember me, tho many miles we distance be,’ he wrote on the other side. Ridgway came to work at the Swansea Pottery with his father, Ralph, a master potter from the Staffordshire works. National Museum Wales holds the most important collection of Welsh ceramics in the world, and visitors who see this canister in its galleries can now think of George more than 200 years after he inscribed these words.


Private collection, South Wales; by descent; sold Francis Towyside Salerooms, 2013; where purchased by current vendor.

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