Saturday, 30 July 2011

Empty bottle

This pottery flask sits on the desk where I write all this blog stuff. I bought it at a minor auction many years ago. As you can possibly see from the photo, it's pretty crude because it doesn't even sit straight on my desk. Either that of the desk is wonky. It dates from around 1400 to 1500 according to Henry Sandon (of Antiques Roadshow fame) although it isn't easy to tell with ancient and rather nondescript pottery like this. That of course would place its likely origins from somewhere near the end of Chaucer's life to the early Tudor period.

It has a pale body with a kind of muddy, greenish, uneven glaze on the top half only. Incised grooves are the only other decoration. It would have been used to carry some kind of liquid of course, possibly oil or maybe perfume or even liquor. Nothing more than an empty bottle in fact.

How much is it worth? Not much - £50 I think Henry said, but even that seems high to me. Although rare, this kind of pottery isn't decorative and lacks collector appeal - apart from eccentrics like me I suppose. There is a very limited supply and a very limited demand.

I like it though and often wonder where it has been during its long life. It has a very faint, musty smell mingled with some kind of flowery odour, but it can't possibly be a fifteenth century fragrance. Maybe it originally contained a sure-fire anti-plague remedy or pox medicine.

You don't really feel as if you own objects like this, you just look after them for a while before they pass on to someone else.


David Duff said...

Objects like that are both fascinating and infuriating. Fascinating because you cannot help wondering where it went in its existence and who were the people who handled it, and infuriating because the bloody thing can't speak!

A K Haart said...

I agree. Its history could be fascinating and the uses it was put to not at all what I imagine. A lost history.