If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery

If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery

by Ivor Noel Hume
     
 

Archaeologist and social historian Ivor Noël Hume brings British history to life through his accessible story about the everyday ceramic objects he and his late wife collected over a 40-year period. If These Pots Could Talk presents "a panoramic view of pottery in Britain and her colonies from the landing of the Romans to the bad intentions of the Germans in

Overview

Archaeologist and social historian Ivor Noël Hume brings British history to life through his accessible story about the everyday ceramic objects he and his late wife collected over a 40-year period. If These Pots Could Talk presents "a panoramic view of pottery in Britain and her colonies from the landing of the Romans to the bad intentions of the Germans in 1939." Beginning as a novice at London's Guildhall Museum in the immediate postwar years, Noël Hume shares his passion for reconstructing lives from bits and pieces of crockery. He describes in vivid detail the common household pottery he unearthed with a bright graduate of Bristol University and the four decades of collecting (and marriage) that followed. Concentrating on earthenwares, stonewares, and porcelains commonly found in archaeological excavations but uncommonly encountered in decorative arts exhibits, his book runs the gamut from burial urns and chamber pots to wine cups and witch bottles.

Cultural and even political history form the warp and weft of the narrative. Written in a personal and often humorous style, this gorgeous and hefty volume will appeal to nonspecialists and experts alike. Wonderful color photographs, largely by noted photographer Gavin Ashworth, enhance the historical and personal commentary. Part catalog, part memoir, If These Pots Could Talk is a beautiful tribute to the richness of collecting and the rewards of a true partnership.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cup for holding caudle ("A drink made from thin gruel, spiced, sweetened, and mixed with ale or wine"), a chafing dish, and even clobbering ("a crude application of heavy overglaze") are potential sources of speech in If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery. London-born Ivor No l Hume (Here Lies Virginia), former chief archeologist at Colonial Williamsburg, presents 648 illustrations (560 in color) of everything from a black Roman-era poppyhead beaker to a thin-walled, brown salt-glazed stoneware "gorge" from the early 18th century and beyond. Organized by use rather than chronology, the 16 chapters take readers from "Broomsticks and Beer Bottles" to "Mentioning the Unmentionables," reconstructing the objects' uses and social contexts along the way. ( Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A cup for holding caudle ("A drink made from thin gruel, spiced, sweetened, and mixed with ale or wine"), a chafing dish, and even clobbering ("a crude application of heavy overglaze") are potential sources of speech in If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery. London-born Ivor No l Hume (Here Lies Virginia), former chief archeologist at Colonial Williamsburg, presents 648 illustrations (560 in color) of everything from a black Roman-era poppyhead beaker to a thin-walled, brown salt-glazed stoneware "gorge" from the early 18th century and beyond. Organized by use rather than chronology, the 16 chapters take readers from "Broomsticks and Beer Bottles" to "Mentioning the Unmentionables," reconstructing the objects' uses and social contexts along the way. ( Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Written by British-born archaeologist Hume, who collected the pieces featured in this book with his late wife over a period of several decades, this volume contains a wealth of information on British pottery from earliest times to the present. Chapter titles range from "Khnum and Ptah, and the Clay of Life" to "Beyond the Gas Lamps' Glare" to "A Mug's Game," revealing both the tone and the scope of this book. Points discussed in the text are illustrated by references to specific pieces in the author's collection and by photographs of each of the forms examined. Hume discusses where production centers existed, as well as the evolution of color and shape of a given pottery. Every major form of pottery makes its appearance here, and some have a truly fascinating history. Hume goes into detail about decoration and techniques, and this book answers many questions about pottery shapes, form, and function. For all comprehensive art collections and certainly for university collections. Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584651611
Publisher:
Chipstone Foundation
Publication date:
10/01/2001
Pages:
472
Sales rank:
1,205,173
Product dimensions:
9.62(w) x 12.00(h) x 1.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beauty, we are told, is in the eye of the beholder, a platitude usually uttered in a condescending tone by someone who thinks that whatever it is you happen to like is as ugly as sin . . . For my part, I make no excuses for being amorously drawn to stoneware. As a longtime historical archaeologist with an equally long fixation on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when I uncover the neck of a Rhenish graybeard bottle I see a face from the past staring up at me out of the ground. Not only that, stoneware repels dirt. A light brushing reveals it in exactly the color and condition it was in when buried . . . What you see is what it was. Be it the mottled brown of the graybeard or the brilliant blue of the Westerwald wares, it shines in sunlight. Its discovery provides a moment of exaltation.

Meet the Author

IVOR NOËL HUME was born in London and studied at Framingham College and St. Lawrence College in England. In 1949 he joined the staff of London's Guildhall Museum as an archaeologist. He moved to Colonial Williamsburg as chief archaeologist in 1957 and subsequently became director of their Department of Archaeology. He is an honorary research associate of Smithsonian Institution, fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and past vice-president of the British Society of Post-Medieval Archaeology. Author of fourteen other books, including Here Lies Virginia and Martin's Hundred, and dozens of articles, he was named an Officer of the British Empire in 1992 for contributions to British cultural interests in Virginia. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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