Do You Take Milk?

Do You Take Milk?
Pear-shaped silver hot milk jug (6 inches high) with wooden handle made in London in 1704 by Richard Sying. Photograph courtesy of Lempertz, lempertz.com.

Through the 18th century, jugs and creamers remained small, and shapes changed according to the preferred design styles of the time. By the time of George III, some jugs became slightly taller and barrel shaped or straight sided and had elegant flowing handles that looped way up above the body of the jug itself; others were of a more exaggerated boat shape with wide sweeping spouts that curved up and away from the jug.

Do You Take Milk?
Pottery cow creamer with rare added bocage, made by Staffordshire or Yorkshire pottery in 1810. Photograph courtesy of John Howard, antiquepottery.co.uk.

And in the 1750s, the delightful cow creamer was introduced to Britain by Dutch silversmith John Schuppe, who is thought to have settled in London in 1753. This humorous design, which British antiques dealer Mark Littler suggests was inspired by “4th-century BC Egypt, where pottery jugs in the form of cows first appear,” was taken up by English potters and silversmiths. They created their own versions of these charming jugs, but most used the cow’s tail as the handle, the mouth as the spout, a hinged saddle in the middle of the back to allow milk or cream to be poured in, and a bee or a fly as a small knob on the saddle. Pottery and earthenware jugs were decorated in widely varying colour schemes, and some added a milkmaid, a calf, or a small tree or shrub known as “bocage.”