1648 (made)

Pickleherring Pottery

Height: 26.5 cm, Diameter: 19.4 cm

4752-1901 CER

Tin-glazed earthenware candlestick with a domed foot and a drip-pan, both with a waved edge, painted with the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. British (Southwark), 1648.

Tin-glazed earthenware candlestick with a domed foot and a drip-pan, both of which have a waved edge. It is painted with the inscription 'W/WE/1648' and the arms of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers: azure three dolphins naiant embowed in pale argent, finned, toothed and crowned or, between two pairs of stock fishes in saltire argent, over the mouth of each fish a crown or; on a chief gules three pairs of keys of St. Peter in saltire or. Body colour: Buff. Condition: Small part of foot restored. Glaze: White. The underside of the domed foot is wiped almost entirely clean of glaze. Shape: The entire interior is hollow with the exception of a short section about 4 cms in width just below the lower edge of the rounded moulding between nozzle and drip-pan.

Object Type The maker of this object copied its basic form from spun brass candlesticks but added the refinement of shaped edges skillfully cut by hand. As a piece intended for gentle use in a merchant's house, its brittle corners have survived almost intact. Time The English Civil War of 1642-6, though localised in terms of the actual fighting, caused havoc in London and at other strategic places like Oxford. Royalist supporters were obliged to surrender their silver tablewares under threat of penalties and inspections were carried out. City Livery Companies like the Mercers in 1643 were forced to dispose of their treasures and to replace them with similar objects made of wood or delftware. It is probable that the table silver of a wealthy member of the Fishmongers' Company such as William Withers, the first owner of this candlestick, would have suffered the same fate. Materials & Making For practical reasons, some types of household equipment were usually made from certain materials. Traditionally candlesticks were made of brass or pewter, which could be cast or spun on a lathe, and which were fire-proof and heavy enough to be stable. Although the Civil War may have encouraged delftware potters to attempt new forms, unsuitable types such as candlesticks were soon abandoned. Delftware never became the tableware of the aristocracy.

It appears from the inscription and coat of arms that this candlestick was made as a gift to commemorate the award of the freedom of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers to William Withers of the Parish of St Olave's Southwark. Purchased from H. Taylor by the Museum of Practical Geology before 1871. Historical significance: This is the earliest known dated Delftware candlestick. The indented edge of the drip-pan and the foot appears to be unique and the whole shape derives from metalwork.

Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street

Location: British Galleries, room 56d, case 13

View this object on the V&A website