Mocha Quart Mug
Blue Banded with Black & White
Snail Trail Earthworm Pattern
Mocha decorated pottery is a type of dipped ware identified by its “wet-surface” look decorated with crawling worms (‘earthworm’), swirling cats’ eyes, sea life (‘seaweed’), rolling waves, alternating bands of color, trees and cross-hatches and purely random squiggles.
Mochware pieces were factory-made and lathe-turned. Their signature “wet surface“ look was achieved by coating pieces in a runny mixture of clay and water known as “slip,” then applying a tea made of tobacco juice, turpentine, hops, and even urine. The resulting chemical reaction formed dendritic patterns in the glaze. Other designs were painted, scratched or stamped on with fingers, brushes, or other objects, resulting in a multitude of layers and colors. Production may have begun as early as 1792.
Many people assume that mochaware is named for the palette of colors it uses: browns, creams, grays, blacks, and muted tones of blue, green, pumpkin, and yellow. Instead., it refers to the Red Sea port of Mocha (now in modern day Yemen), a city associated in England with the export of dendritic, or moss agates (Mocha stone). The stone features natural striations similar to the ware’s seaweed- and tree-like decorations.
Manufactured by potteries throughout Great Britain, France, and North America, mocha was the cheapest decorated ware available. Most British production went to export whereas France and North America manufactured for the home markets. Archaeological finds throughout the eastern United States suggest that mocha was used in taverns and homes, from lowly slave quarters to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Poplar Forest. After the mid-19th century, British imports waned, with those potteries still making mocha concentrating on government-stamped capacity-verified measures (jugs and mugs) for use in pubs and markets. North American product was based entirely on yellow or buff-colored bodies banded in black with broad white slip bands on which the dendritic markings appeared. Some British makers used yellow-firing clay, too, but the bulk of the wares were based on white bodies, the earliest being creamware and pearlware, while later, heavier and thicker bodies resembled ironstone, known best to archaeologists simply as "whiteware".
Because it was used on a daily basis, few examples of original mochaware have survived over the years, making it a rare American collectible.
This piece is an English Pearlware Mocha Quart Mug ex-collection of William Lewan that is decorated in a blue banded with black and white snail trail earthworm pattern. It measures 6” high x 4 ½” in diameter. It has hairline cracks, but is nonetheless an extremely desirable piece.
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