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Pot-Pourri Vase & Cover - 1768

Pot-Pourri Vase and Cover, © Wedgwood Museum
    Pot-Pourri Vase and Cover
    © Wedgwood Museum

Pot- pourri vase with moulded decoration and rouletted bands to the body. Queens Ware c. 1768 Holding pot-pourri, a pungent liquid made from decomposing flower petals, pot-pourri pots were essential in early nineteenth century society, as personal hygiene was somewhat questionable! To counteract the more noxious odours produced in public places, the Wedgwood factory made pot-pourri pots and vases – as well as pastille burners – ornamental containers which held smouldering cone-shaped pastilles made from powdered charcoal mixed with gum arabic and fragrant oils.

At a time when personal hygiene was questionable, pot-pourri vases, or pots, were essential in nineteenth century society. Pot-pourri pots held ‘pot-pourri’ – a liquid which gave off a pungent odour from decomposing flower petals, as the word ‘pourri’ – ‘rotten’ in French - implies. In later years in England, dry mixtures of flowers and herbs placed in open receptacles are often incorrectly described as pot-pourri. Pot-pourri pot shape number 636 was made in cane ware, basalt and rosso antico dry-bodied wares, and were lavishly decorated with combination print and enamelled designs of ‘Enamilld Chinese Flowers in Colours’ and ‘pheasants’ – in reality feng-huang or phoenix bird motifs. The first mention of the 636 pot-pourri pot appears in the Wedgwood ‘London Order Book’ in September 1813, where the items were priced at 42 shillings. A later entry dated March 1816 stipulates – ‘The potpourrie we wish to be perfect as possible...’ Wedgwood also made pot-pourri vases in Queen’s ware and dry-bodied wares in the first half of the nineteenth century.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/vase
  • Mark: Unmarked
  • Year produced: 1768
  • Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Glaze: lead glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: rouletted
  • Accession number: 1541, 1541a
  • Dimensions: 325 mm (height)

Glossary

  • Queen’s ware

    Queen’s ware

    In 1765 Wedgwood provided a tea and coffee service to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) in the new earthenware body he had recently perfected. She was so pleased with the set that she not only allowed Josiah to style himself ‘Potter to Her Majesty’, she also allowed him to call his new earthenware ‘Queen’s ware’ - a name by which Wedgwood’s cream coloured earthenware is still known today.