Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein ~ November 2020

The Doulton "Black Jack"

By Walt Vogdes, Pacific Stein Sammler


Several months ago I authored a Featured Stein article titled "The English 'Black Jack.'" That article deals with leather drinking vessels. While preparing that article I happened across some information about a ceramic "puzzle pitcher" made to look like a leather vessel, by the Doulton pottery of Lambeth, a district in South London. The simulated leather appearance, the link to the earlier article, and the enigmatic verse it contains make it worthy of note. The trick to the jug is to read the words of the verse from bottom to top, beginning to the left of the handle and continuinig round from left to right. I found the information on the Rubylane website where it is (was) offered for sale with the following description:

This Doulton Lambeth Jug bears a Slaters Patent and a registration mark. A former owner dated it to 1889. It is in the shape of an old pigskin football and shows prominent "stitches" in the clay and a raised "skin" in dark brown. The original tan body of the clay was used to write across the jug, The Landlords Caution.

The maltster has sent his clerk,
And you must pay the score,
for if I trust my beer,
what shall I do for more.

The handle is thick and "stitched" to the body of the jug. ... It stands 9" tall and about 5 1/2" across its bulbous middle. This does not include the handle. It weighs a hefty three pounds.

Martin Kiely wrote an interesting article for the September 2020 issue of Prosit titled "Black Jacks, Leather Bombards, and Leather Tankards" in which he included mention of this puzzle pitcher.