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Title:sweetmeat dish
Date Made:1680-1720
Type:Food Service
Materials:ceramic: slip-decorated, lead-glazed earthenware (slipware)
Place Made:United Kingdom; England; North Staffordshire or Surrey or Hampshire
Measurements:overall: 2 3/4 x 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 in.; 6.985 x 17.4625 x 17.4625 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2000.65
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

English slipware sweetmeat or nest of dishes made with four joined wells. Groups of three or more conjoined cups are well-known in north Staffordshire slipware, but their precise function is uncertain. Some examples of these forms exhibit loop handles on the side; and it has been suggested that this form could have been used to hold sweetmeats or cruets with condiments. Sweetmeat dishes would have been used at the table to hold dry sweetmeats such as candied fruit rinds or sugared nuts or wet sweetmeat such as preserved fruits in syrup. A deeper more cup-like form - like this example - may have had a different function, perhaps more akin to a fuddling cup. Slip-decorated earthenwares were produced in the English Midlands for use at home and in the colonies. American newspapers advertisements often referred to these wares as "yellow earthenwares" or "yellowwares," given the dark yellow, iron tinge in the lead glaze. Other examples of these dishes exist in the Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur Museum collections. The dish is composed of four cylindrical cups that form a fifth diamond-shaped container in the center; the thrown cups are joined together with additional pieces of clay at the base. Four tabs are attached at the top shaped in a semicircle, which are decorated with brown slip circles and c-shapes. There is a brown slip jewel decoration on the top rims of cups. The entire object has been dipped in a layer of white slip, and coated with a layer of lead glaze. Although dishes of this type are not found at Staffordshire archaeological sites, they usually are attributed to late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century potteries in that county, where slip-trailed ornament and relief molds were commonly used. Somewhat similar shaped yellow-glazed whiteware dishes have been excavated in mid- to late 17th-century contexts at production sites on the Hampshire/Surrey border, a region that supplied pottery to London. Two excavated "Border ware" examples are six-lobed and have the inner walls extending only part way to the centers. The use of these lobed dishes remains obscure. They may have been employed to serve sweetmeats or, less likely, to hold cruets. Related slipware dishes, typically with three to five tear-shaped lobes, survive in several collections. There is a label on center of base for "Garry/ Atkins."

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