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CHRISTOPHER DRESSER CLARET JUGS

Claret Jugs are some of Christopher Dressers iconic design pieces and elements of some of his unique designs were copied and incorporated ad infinitum. This means you can't always tell if an item was something straight from his drawing board of from the drawing board of some bod who'd been to the shop seen the Dresser stuff and was now copying it.

I apologize if I appear to be talking BS in some of this section but I do love design, and am interested in the reasoning behind things are the way they are. In this case Dresser is full of BS on this subject, which I find very interesting.

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Claret Jugs

This is a Victorian claret jug with a long wide neck, diamond shaped body. It has a silver plate fittings incorporating a bar handle, pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid. It is mark H&H for Hulkin and Heath. Made c.1882-3

This is a quality claret jug made by Hukin and Heath. Christopher Dresser made a number of variations of this type of jug. This particular one is well referenced. It is more normal for the bar handle to be a dowel of ebonised wood, but in this case, it is a silver plate bar.

What is nice about this is that the design date of 1882-3 is so out of step with other work being produced at the time and this is what makes Dresser so great. He steps out of his time period innovates and it still looks good all this time later.

Reference: Dresser, Harry Lyons, M-036

Reference: Christopher Dresser, Michael Whiteway, page 99

Reference: Christie's Catalogue 19th Oct 2004, The Harry Lyons Collection, Lot.353

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 419

Reference: Great British Wine Accessories 1550-1900, Robin Butler, page 171

Height: 8.5 inches

Width: 5.5 inches

This is a Victorian claret jug with a quilted moulded body. It has a silver plate collar with incorporated handle, pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid. It is mark H&H for Hukin and Heath. Made c.1880-90

This is a quality claret jug made by the famous makers Hukin and Heath. Plenty of jugs in this style exist with all kinds of finishes, for totally plain to cut all over. The design of these claret jugs are usually attributed to Dr. Christopher Dresser.

The really neat thing about this that shows the quality is that where the bottom of the handle touches the glass body, the metal of the handle has been shaved to match the undulations on the glass and let it sit flush on the uneven surface.

Christopher Dresser is often regarded as the 'father of industrial design'. He designed utilitarian objects for the general public while making full use of the latest techniques of mass production. Dresser's most innovative designs were for objects to be made in metal. His designs for ceramics and glass often resemble plant forms in their shape, ornamentation or colouring, but his designs for metalwork objects tend to be fully abstract. He frequently employed symmetrical, rectilinear shapes and undecorated surfaces. This was partly due to the intrinsic value of silver and gold, which he specified should be used economically in order to make the object affordable. This is in keeping with his ethical attitude towards economy in design.

Reference: Dresser People's Designer, Harry Lyons, M-038

Height: 8 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a Victorian claret jug with a quilted moulded body. It has a silver plate collar with incorporated handle, pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid. Made c.1880-90

This is a quality claret jug but I don't know if it is made by the famous makers Hukin and Heath because it is completely unmarked. The glass body of this decanter is exactly the same as the other Hukin and Heath marked claret jug. Even some of the features that you can't see are the same.

The thing that is different on this one is the metal ware. The lid has a thumb handle on it for raising the lid. The reason it is needed is that the lid needs to be raised in order to pour your claret. With the other quilted claret jug the mouth of the jug is permanently open and so it can be poured without raising the lid. So why is there this difference? If Dresser is about function giving rise to design why do this two different ways that look very similar but function differently. The answer is, one of them won't be his design, I expect.

Reference: Dresser People's Designer, Harry Lyons, M-038

Height: 8.5 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a Victorian claret jug with a round body with four dimples. It has a silver plate collar with incorporated handle, pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid with the gothic letter J inscribed. The underside of the lid is marked Drew & Sons Leadenhall Street London. Made c.1888-1914

This claret jug is a bit of a is it isn't it a Dresser design, type of thing. I don't know if Dresser designed for Drew & Sons or if Hukin and Heath made stuff for Drew & Sons using Dresser designs. The pattern for the metal ware is very similar to the Hukin and Heath jug above, only with a rounded pouring lip as opposed to a squared one.

Drew & Sons were sellers of top quality luggage and occupied the shop in Leadenhall from 1888-1914, hence the use those dates. This claret jug may have originally started life as a part of bigger set built to fit into luggage, such as a picnic set. Drew & Sons were known for making picnic baskets and the short dumpy squared shape would completely make sense in this context.

Reference: Miller's Glass Antiques Checklist, Mark West, page 121

Height: 6.5 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a flask shaped Victorian claret jug with horizontal ellipses closely cut over the whole body apart from a demarked area near the applied handle. The handle is plain and applied bottom to top. It has a silver plate rim collar with a hinged lid, marked H&H for Hulkin and Heath. Made c.1880-90

This is a super quality claret jug made by the famous makers Hukin and Heath. I have never seen another jug like this and the planished look of the cutting reminds me of silver work designed by Dr. Christopher Dresser. I don't know if this is one of his designed, but I would expect he wasn't standing far away when it was.

The little horizontal ellipses are known as olives to glass cutters. I haven't used that in the description as I suspect even most glass nerds have heard of it.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 456

Height: 9 inches

Width: 5 inches

This is a Victorian claret jug with a long wide neck, and flattened donut shaped base. It has horizontal ellipses closely cut over the whole body. It has a silver plate collar with incorporated scrolled handle, pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid, marked H&H for Hulkin and Heath. Made c.1880-90

The jug above this is a super quality as the intense cutting on the body sets it apart from its plainer stable mates. I don't have a direct reference for this jug but all of the componets that make it up are direct from other pieces that are referenced as Christopher Dresser designs. If this isn't his design then it is essentially made out of parts he designed.

Reference: Great British Wine Accessories 1550-1900, Robin Butler, page 131

Reference: Dresser, Harry Lyons, Cat. M-034

Reference: Christopher Dresser, Stuart Durant, page 85

Height: 9 inches

Width: 5 inches

This is a Victorian claret Jug with a long wide neck, and flattened donut shaped base. It has sterling silver fittings incorporating a looped handle, domed pouring lip and a hinged flip-top lid. It has silver marks for the maker Jehoiada Alsop Rhodes & Barber in Sheffield 1883.

There is a reasonable chance that is claret jug is not a Christopher Dresser design. My references contain no mention of him doing any work for this silversmith company. The glass body is very like one of the designs Christopher Dresser created, and whilst the silverware is reminiscent of Christopher Dresser's works I have seen none of his designed with a domed lid. As this is hallmarked for 1883, this company was very quick off the mark producing something that looked like something he designed.

Regardless of anything else it's a lovely claret jug and with its more organic shape is more art noveau in design.

Reference: Miller's Glass Antiques Checklist, Mark West, page 121

Height: 9 inches

Width: 5.5 inches

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