Manufacture of stoneware in Bristol probably commenced in the early 18th century but output, at that time, would have been much smaller than that of delftware. A number of large tankards signed by John Harwell and dated 1738 and 1739 have been preserved in public collections - click button below for an example in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
These can then be linked to other unsigned tankards. A characteristic feature seems to be small, finely moulded sprigs, many times repeated. At first all tankards with hunt running to the right were attributed to Bristol but more recent work has suggested that some are from Vauxhall. (1)
Although there were a lot of Bristol potteries recorded as making brown stoneware in the 19th century relatively few marked items have been recorded. Fortunately they include some large commemorative jugs with room for many sprigs.
1875 - 1901?
A small number of two and three pint sprigged jugs have been recorded (Click buttons below to view). The “thinker” sprig appears to be copied from that employed by a Chesterfield maker, possibly Oldfield. The rouletted patterns on the neck distinguish them from other Bristol makers. Jugs marked Priest, Canton, Cardiff (q.v.) seem to have the identical sprigs although not the rouletting.
1812 - 1823, succeeded by John Bright trading under various names until 1853, when the pottery was acquired by Charles Price.
Bristol Museum has a large jug marked J. Milsom 1820, Hope & Bright (Click button below to view image) and an 1818 goblet bearing the names J. Bright, J Hazzard, J Milsom & E Melsom (Click button below to view image) . Both have distinctive sprigs that may serve as important identifiers. John Milsom must have left soon after as he is listed, in directories, as a stone potter in his own right between 1822 and 1840.
Brown stone potters from about 1816. Taken over by Price & Co in 1906.
Bristol Museum has two large jugs dated 1834 (Click button to view).and 1844 (Click button to view). The great majority of sprigs are of classical figures although the 1844 jug has a few toper sprigs from the standard "Davenport set" sprigs (Click button to view). Another very large, 1840 dated, jug was sold by Christies, Kensington in 2010 (Click button to view).
Apart from these one off specials I have only recorded four Powell marked sprigged items from their 90 years of production. Two jugs with the generic "The Kill" design (Click button to view) and two loving cups with the again generic "monkeys playing at cards" design (Click button to view). Thus far I know of no way of distinguishing unmarked Powell from Price.
Charles Price started as Price & Read c1799 and traded alone from about 1820. Price "merged" with Powell in 1906.
Jars have been recorded marked C & JH PRICE, but the only mark seen on sprigged items is PRICE BRISTOL.
All marked items seen have been "Bristol glazed" but their sprigs can be used to identify earlier salt glazed items.
Late examples are frequently marked but are rarely crisply sprigged.
Possibly unique to Price is the use of sprigs of faces, pot boy and farmers wife. The use of Bristol glazed smokers and musicians sprigs is also probably indicative of Price (Click button to view image).
1907 - 1960 The pottery was destroyed by bombing in November 1940 (2) but they continued to be listed in directories until 1960 (3). Post 1940 production may have been contracted out to Denby and/or Pearsons.
Examples seen retain the use of traditional Bristol sprigs but use a Denby style windmill. (Click buttons to view images)
(1) Dated London brown saltglazed Hunting Mugs 1713-75, W. Hamilton-Foyn, English Ceramic Circle, V12/2 (2000)
(2) Rod Dowling's excellent web site "Three Centuries of
Ceramic Art in Bristol - The Story of Bristol Pottery and Porcelain.
This site is no longer on the web. An archived version (minus most of
the images) is still available at:
(3) Bristol Potters, 1775-1906, R.K. Henrywood, 1992