Inscribed: ‘BE MERRY AND WISE 1650’
Southwark, probably Pickleherring pottery, Richard Newnham
11.8 cm high, 15.4 across

Of bulbous form with slightly everted rim, this type of cup – referred to as a caudle cup – is a particularly English shape. Decorated in blue and white with a continuous coastal landscape, freely painted with ships trees and buildings.

This recently discovered cup is an addition to a group of three very similarly decorated caudle cups dated between 1645 and 1660, illustrated by Lipski and Archer in Dated English Delftware (pp. 160, 162 & 165). The distinctively painted decoration of ships and houses is also found on a small group of other items, that includes dishes, a posset pot (Lipski and Archer, p. 201) and the great jug from the Glaisher collection illustrated by Michael Archer in Delftware in the Fitzwilliam Museum (pp. 160-161). In his description of this jug, Archer associates the group with another group of seven fecundity dishes that have the same motif of a sailing ship repeated in recesses around the border. One of these fecundity dishes (Archer p. 72) is dated 1661, and bears the initials N/RE, which Archer suggests are highly probable to be those of Richard and Elizabeth Newnham, proprietors of the Pickleherring pottery in Southwark from 1645-1684.

                                                  The Glaisher Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Coming just one year after the execution of Charles I, dated pieces from the Commonwealth period (1649-1660) of Oliver Cromwell are particularly rare often being plain and left in the white in keeping with the puritanical spirit of this period.

A caudle is a thick sweet drink, often alcoholic, given to new mothers or invalids and the cup a was a traditional gift for a pregnant woman or new mother – befitting the inscription to the rim ‘BE MERRY AND WISE’.

Handle broken off in two pieces and reattached, long running cracks to the body stabilised, with chip to the rim restored, small glaze losses associated with the cracks restored

Louis L. Lipski and Michael Archer, Dated English Delftware, (Sotheby Publications, 1984), pp. 160, 162 & 165
Michael Archer, Delftware in the Fitzwilliam Museum, (Philip Wilson Publishers, 2013)

This item has been sold