1880's Smugglers Pirate Staffordshire Pottery Figure Wall Plaque
This beautiful old piece will complement your Staffordshire Figure or 19th century English pottery collection. It has a wonderful and colourful scene of 4 hearty smugglers drinking, eating and raising their tankards in a pub, seated on wooden tables and benches. A teapot is also present on the table. A plump figural smugger (most likely the smuggler boss) holds a large and formidable wooden cane on his shoulder. He and another smuggler each sport feather plumes on their hats. We feel it dates from the latter part of the 19th century.
The plaque is intended to hang on the wall as a decoration, having two intended holes in the back to which a small silk cord is tied, see photos. The overpainted relief scene may be inspired by a popular Victorian era song, theater play or a book related to the smuggling topic. The plaque is gold rimmed, with the usual age crazing and small firing imperfections. The bottom has an overpainted letter L in blue and a stray gilding paint swath, which are generally seen as workmen or pottery factory artist marks. It has no chips, cracks or repairs. It measures 8 inches by 7 inches.
For many centuries, smuggling, usually in the deep of night, was an essential part of life on the south coast of Britain. Pirates, the untamed sea, shipwrecks, treasures, spying, fighting, rebellions, desert islands, pubs, taverns, and rum drinking are the basis of Britain's most loved adventure stories. Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-1894 is best known for his famous books such as Treasure Island, 1882 and Kidnapped, 1886, which were based on this smuggler romanticism.
The taxation of goods was the cause of smuggling. Tea, wool, hides, grain, animals, tobacco, European luxury goods, leather, pottery, ceramics and wine or liquor were smuggled, to name a few. Much of it was done in the south, with Cornwall as the prime area. This was long before our dark world of drug and human trafficking, although smuggling had dark and violent elements as well. It was also a way farmers, seafarers, fishermen and the young could earn large sums of money and also live a more adventurous life. It should be known the elite of the cities were also involved in smuggling too.
Interestingly, "The Smugglers Inn" is one of the most common names for a pub or tavern on England's southern coast. Click images to see condition in close up views. It was found in Devon, South West England, in a historically known smuggling territory.
Size: 8 inches by 7 inches
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