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Maker(s):Clews, James and Ralph
Culture:English (1813-1834)
Title:invalid feeder
Date Made:1825-1834
Type:Food Service
Materials:ceramic: lead-glazed, refined white earthenware (pearlware), underglaze cobalt blue enamel, transfer print
Place Made:Great Britain: England; Staffordshire; Cobridge
Accession Number:  HD 2016.34
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

When you are ill and lying flat in bed, drinking from a cup can be difficult. This invalid feeder or so-called sick pot was used to feed patients who were too weak or ill to sit up. Patients drank beef tea, hot chocolate, or a mixture of diluted milk and flour called pap. The invalid feeder was ideal for giving liquid meals to bedridden patients. The food was prepared and then poured or spooned into the feeder. The patient was propped up slightly and drank from the feeder, holding the handle. If they were very weak, a nurse or helper sat next to them and fed them. Large, oversized circular cup to be used for feeding an invalid, composed of applied straight foot rim, curving sides, attached strap handle, conical shaped spout at the opposite end, opening of mouth is half covered with a flat piece of earthenware; the cup is covered on the top, sides, spout and handle with a transfer printed design in cobalt blue called the "Summer Rose" pattern, made by Ralph and James Clews of Cobridge, Staffordshire, England; the design consists of a circular reserve with a vase of flowers or wild roses against a pontilistic background, beyond the reserve are larger flowers and more of a dotted or pontilistic background, the cup is transfer printed on the bottom with the label, "SUMMER/ROSE" within a shield with floral elements (rose and leaves) above. While this object is not marked Clews, other teapots in this same pattern are impressed Clews. Condition: the feeder is in overall good condition with some minor staining in the interior of the bowl, there is craquelure on the underside of the feeder which is also slightly stained, there is some minor glaze loss along the upper rim of the feeder. A similarly shaped feeder is listed in the 1814 Leeds Pottery Pattern book, no. 219, as a sick pot. Ralph and James Clews, born in 1788 and 1790 respectively, were two of the sons of John Clews, a hatter, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. We know little of their early life, but by 1811 James Clews was acting as clerk to the potter Andrew Stevenson, and he and Ralph were in business on their own account by the autumn of 1813. The Bleak Hill Works in Cobridge, near to Burslem was probably their first pottery. Bleak Hill, a small factory with two ovens, had been operated by Peter Warburton until his untimely death in January 1813 at the age of 40, and his widow Mary was advertising the works for sale or to let in the following month. An insurance policy which the widow Warburton took out in July 1817 specifies the premises as being in the occupation of Ralph and James Clews and it seems likely that the brothers took the opportunity presented by the empty factory when they first entered business in 1813. In 1817, the brothers rented a second factory in Cobridge, the Globe Works, and it was at this pottery they developed their enormous export trade to the United States.

medicine; disease

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