Victorian Frog Loving Cup

Victorian Frog Loving Cup

Rachel Denyer (Penrose Antiques Ltd)

A loving cup is a large, two-handled mug usually associated with a wedding. However, in the mid nineteenth century loving cups were used for other purposes. For example there was a tradition of giving loving cups as a christening gift.

Elsmere & Forster Frog Loving Cup 1This loving cup (fig 1) is a particularly unusual one because it gives us an insight into a family of potters and the company Elsmore & Forster, based at Tunstall Staffordshire. Elsmore & Forster was a quality manufacturer of pottery goods, whose production ran from 1851 – 1873[1], One side the cup is painted with a traditional floral decoration (Fig 1) and on the other it is inscribed “A present for William Venables, 25 December 1860 (Fig 2). However, there is a surprise waiting for the user of this cup, because lurking within are three quite charming pottery frogs (Fig 3).

The most probable recipient of this cup was a William Venables born in Wolstanton, Staffordshire, in 1860. His family were an established Potteries family, going back to his grandfather, John Venables (b1806). The 1841 census shows John Venables resisident in Tunstall, a sub-district of Walstanton, with his wife Emma (b1806) and their 4 children.[2] By 1851, John had become an earthenware painter, and his oldest son William (b1831) had become a potter.[3] Another 2 of his children went on to become potters – by 1861, his second son John (b1832) and daugher Sarah (b1839) were both potters.[4] By 1861, William Venables had married, and was living in Burslem with his wife Emma and 2 sons – Alfred and newborn son William[5] who had been born in 1860.

Figure 2Christmas Day fell on a Tuesday that year. 1860 was a very cold December, with Lord Hatherton of Teddesley Park near Penkridge (26 miles from Burslem) recording in his diary that the Figure 3temperature had dropped to minus 10 degrees killing a number of magnolia plants, some of which were 30 years old. [6] Perhaps the loving cup was filled with hot drinks and passed to unsuspecting visitors. William himself entered the pottery industry. The 1881 census shows he was living at home with his widowed mother, and working as a clerk in an earthenware factory.[7] Beyond that date, he is difficult to identify in the censuses with any certainty. It is possible he moved away from the Staffordshire area after the death of his mother.

We will never know if the cup was made or decorated by one of the family, or if a similar one had been given 4 years earlier to his elder brother Alfred. Nevertheless, it represents a fragment of the family’s history, and the loving cup was preserved and handed down through the generations, its inscription bearing witness to its original owner. This cup is currently for sale via the Penrose Antiques Ltd Ruby Lane web site.


[2]  1841 UK Census: Class: HO107; Piece: 993; Book: 20; GSU roll: 474622

[3] 1851 UK Census. Class: HO107; Piece: 2002; Folio: 412; Page: 27; GSU roll: 87404.

[4] 1861 UK Census Class: RG 9; Piece: 1925; Folio: 36; Page: 29; GSU roll: 542888.

[5] 1861 UK Census Class: RG 9; Piece: 1928; Folio: 16; Page: 25; GSU roll: 542889

[7] 1881 UK Census Class Rg11; Piece: 2714: Folio:87; Page: 49; GSU roll: 1341650

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Beautiful Things – The Regency Egg Cups by Crispin Fuller 1819

One of the real pleasures of buying and selling antiques is the acquisition of beautiful things. A nice example of recently acquired beautiful things is an absolutely lovely pair of Regency egg cups. I know egg cups, sound fairly mundane, but in this case they are not, anything but.

These particular egg cups are what I would describe as something quite special. They are amazingly crafted consisting of 2 and 1/8 inch diameter bowls that have been stunningly embossed with a lovely floral design. The bowls then sit upon a beautifully simple pedestal, which in turn sits on a once more finely decorated base. The egg cups are fully hallmarked for London 1819 and were made by the very good silversmith Crispin Fuller (Makers Mark CF). When describing pieces of silver like this it is very easy to become taken over be superlatives, in this case the superlatives are well justified. Not only are the truly lovely, but they are of a heavy grade of silver, weighing approximately 1.5 ounces each and made by a good silversmith. As one would expect with pieces of this age they do carry one or two imperfections, the makers mark on one egg cup is a bit rubbed and the flanges around the bowls are not all quite uniform, but generally these egg cups are in a great antique condition.

Crispin Fuller Egg Cups 1819.1L

For more details and an opportunity to buy these lovely silver items please visit our Ruby Lane shop.

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