When you hear the word ‘tea ware’ what do you think of? A teapot, perhaps? That would be the response of many! Today we’re looking at the ‘creamer jug’, an important item of tea ware which shouldn’t be forgotten… unless you are a black tea/coffee drinker!
A creamer jug is a small jug or pitcher, designed for holding either cream or milk. They are most commonly made from silver, earthenware and porcelain.
The earliest examples of cream jugs which have been discovered are from the early 18th century, as the popularity of tea increased alongside the advent of tea and coffeehouses. At first, tea was so expensive that only the wealthiest in society could afford it, hence why the first examples of English tea ware were usually crafted in silver, rather than a more affordable material.
It was Western tradition that a creamer would be served alongside tea or coffee and since then, the creamer has become an almost obligatory part of a tea or coffee set.
Designs & Types of Cream Jugs
Creamer jugs vary in design depending on the period in which they were created, the earliest versions of creamer jugs were tall with rotund, baluster shape, and a collet foot. However, over the course of the eighteenth century, these jugs became shorter, wider and longer spout, and often featured feet or an elongated foot.
As with all silverware generally, the design an embellishment which featured on silver creamer jugs became more ornate and complex as we moved from the Georgian era into the Victorian era.
We have Dutch silversmith John Schuppe to thank for the widespread popularity of creamers produced in the form of cows – his work dates back to the 18th century, Holland. Schuppe’s work was and still is viewed as ‘among the finest’, despite Potters in Staffordshire catching on to the idea and producing cow creamers using earthenware, which was then decorated in order to make the items more aesthetically pleasing.
The link between cows and cream is fairly clear! It may well be the obvious reasoning behind the invention of the cow creamer, although what inspired John Schuppe’s desire to create such pieces in the first place is something which we remain unsure of! If anyone has any further information regarding this, please feel free to share in the comments below.
Novelty items were in fashion during this era, and items of silverware and all homeware became objects de curiosité, which the middle classes wanted to display and show to their guests as an example of their humour and good taste.
The lid of these creamers can be located on the back of the cow (pictured below), allowing access to the vessel. The cow’s tail then functions as the handle of the creamer.
Over the years here at AC Silver, we have had a small yet fine selection of vintage cow creamers which have featured in and amongst our tea ware collection.
Other examples of novelty cream jugs include pieces such as this character jug, created in the form of a caricature Frenchman. Pieces such as these, as well as toby jugs, were common designs for creamer jugs. It is likely that the diminutive shape and size of the creamer jug lent itself well to these novelty designs, particularly when the creamer jug would be the final piece of the tea set which was used before drinking. This would no doubt add the effect of a comical flourish to the end of a meal or tea service.
As with all items of antique silverware, the quality and rarity of each example determines the value of each creamer jug. However, cow creamers are especially charming, particularly for those with a fondness for animals or an affinity to rural life!
Many people may overlook the importance of creamer jugs when serving-up tea, whereas here at AC Silver we view them as an essential item of tea ware – after all, how else would you serve your guest cream for their tea or coffee?
When hosting your next tea party will you use the more traditional creamer jug or will you opt for the more memorable jug, the cow creamer?
Marc Henderson – Social Media Executive
Our Social Media Executive – Marc will continue to keep the followers of the business entertained on our social media outlets and will assist with developing the brand online.