AN IMPORTANT EWENNY POTTERY SLIPWARE WASSAIL BOWL & COVER, DATED 1823 glazed in yellow over red with sgraffito decoration, the base with seventeen loops decorated with zig-zags, repeated interlocking circles below the rim and below the handles the inscription 'THOMAS ARTHUR maker Ewenny, Glamorganshire, South Wales, November 26th, 1823' below the inscription a naive scrolling trail, and with a trail of flowers to the opposite side, the sgraffito decorated domed cover with loops and a prowling fox, the flat top adorned with birds and beehives or hay-cocks, 29cms high Provenance: from the collection of Gwyneth and the late Ieuan Evans, purchased privately by the vendor, to accompany a page from an old auction catalogue with an illustration and description of the bowl (possibly 1960s/70s), the maker is likely to be Thomas Arthur (1792-1853), a resident of nearby Corntown, who was registered as a potter in the 1851 Census (please see page 41 of Ewenny Potteries, Potters & Pots by Gwyneth & Ieuan R Evans) Auctioneer's Note: Wassail bowls were used in an ancient custom in south Wales around New Year, when groups of revellers would travel from house to house wishing happiness, health and well-being to their neighbours. In Glamorgan the wassail tradition was closely associated with The Mari Lwyd ritual, where a horse's skull was fixed to a ribbon-decorated pole and promenaded around the well-wishers. The bowls were usually filled with spiced ale. The communal nature of the wassail custom is highlighted by the multiple handles which may have been decorated with ribbons for the event. In the South Wales News of April 30th 1892 a report refers to William Williams, a potter at Claypits who made wassail bowls in the 1820s for parishes at a cost of one guinea each Comments: on the crest of each loop on the body would have sat a chicken (one remains), one loop handle missing (should be 18), losses to cover include five missing loops, extremities and finial, examination in person highly recommended. Believed to be the earliest Ewenny wassail bowl to appear at auction in recent years.