Two flower painters walked into a pub...
No, this is not a joke, but well, two flower painters walked into a pub...
A while ago I was offered a large porter mug that was quite intriguing. Porter mugs were used for porter, a strong dark ale that had become very popular in the late 18th and early 19th Century and that derived its name from the London porters, who made it fashionable. Porcelain factories started making beautiful named mugs that people could give each other at special occasions. The recipient could keep their mug at their favourite pub for their personal use. Porter mugs often have two handles - a good idea after you've consumed a few of these big ales, as they can be quite strong.
This particular porter mug has beautiful flowers on one side, and a wreathed message on the other side: William Cooke - Star & Anchor.
As soon as I saw the mug I recognised the name William Cooke, as well as the flowers: they were painted in the hand of Thomas Dixon, an important flower painter at the Coalport factory between 1821 and 1875. Dixon was known for his very full, balanced and graceful flower paintings and he trained up many younger painters. William Cooke would have been his student, arriving at the factory in 1843 and, like Dixon, working there until his death in 1876. The style of the mug is from around 1845, so it is very possible that Dixon would have presented the mug to Cooke fore a special occasion - did he get married? Have a baby? Finish his apprenticeship and become a fully paid painter? We will never know but it is clear that both men, who were known to be friends, were having a good drink at the Star & Anchor - I would have loved to hear their conversations!
To understand the work of these two great painters I have shown in the slideshow above the mug alongside other wonderful items by William Cooke and Thomas Dixon, which are available.
Where to find things
Coalport porcelain can be found here, and you can find all my available items here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.
Wish List ❤️
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Happy weekend, and go visit your local pub, tearoom or coffee house this weekend to treat someone you admire! 🍻🥤☕️🫖
This week's treasures: