Sunday, September 22, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: A Silver Cow Creamer, 1758

English, 1758
Sterling Silver
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here, we see a sterling silver cream jug in the form of a cow. Such items are often referred to by the unsavory name of “spewers.” I don’t like that word, so, we’ll call it a “creamer.”

Creamers such as this came about as the British developed a taste for adding milk or cream to their tea in the mid Eighteenth century. This was considered to be a better alternative to drinking weak tea in the Chinese style. By the late Eighteenth Century, creamers had become an essential part of the tea service.

Taking a design cue from the literal, creamers were often made in the form of cows during this period. Most of the sterling silver examples from the Eighteenth Century bear the mark of John Schuppe, and were made between 1753 and 1773. This example was made in 1758.

Most believe that Schuppe was from the Netherlands where such creamers in the shape of a cow had already been quite fashionable for decades. All of Schuppe’s creamers follow the same basic design of a looped tail and a saddle-shaped lid with a finial in the form of a fly. Cream or milk is poured from the cow’s mouth.

These items achieves an enduring popularity and many are still produced by various manufacturers and in a variety of media.

Now, I must note, that in Twentieth-Century literature, Bertie Wooster (for whom my Bertie is named), the hero of the “Jeeves and Wooster” tales by P.G. Wodehouse, found such cow creamers quite disgusting and they figured prominently in one of Bertie’s adventures in particular. My Bertie Wooster, on the other hand, likes any vessel which is designed to hold cream and has no objection to them. 

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