The 1852 publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, caused an international sensation which prompted many potters in Great Britain to produce a plethora of objects depicting various scenes and sentiments from the novel.
One of the most distinctive pieces to be produced came from the Staffordshire pottery of Ridgway and Abingdon, and in time, came to be referred to as 'the slavery relief jug'.
The jug displays two very compelling scenes from the novel: the dreadful slave auction depicting a devastated and weeping, soon-to-be-separated slave family on one side, and on the other side, the fugitive slave, Eliza, fleeing north from enslavement with her baby in her arms across the ice floes of the Ohio River. A notable detail on the side of the jug depicting the auction- the broadside posted on the auctioneer's podium reads, "By Auction this Day a Prime Lot of Negroes".
In addition to these two scenes, the jug handle is decorated with the iconic image of the head and clasped hands of a slave (presumably Uncle Tom) in prayer.
The underside of the jug is stamped by the maker and is dated January 1, 1853, indicating that it was produced within just months of the 1852 publication of UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.
Made of Parian stoneware, the jug measures approximately 7 inches high, with an approximate 3.5 inch diameter mouth. The jug is in all-original and overall excellent condition. Two slight and tight hairline cracks are evident at the base and are best viewed by looking into the interior of the jug as their presence is much more subtle on the exterior and thus more difficult to photograph. One of these hairlines is present along the foot of the jug; the other occurs a bit higher up in acanthus leaves that border the baseline near the ice floes. A single, tight hairline is also present at the interior mouth near the handle (please refer to all photos). None of the hairlines affect structural integrity as they are quite tight; they are not atypical given the jug's 150+ years of age.
An exceptional and formidable piece of history, very rarely found in today's antiques market!