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A RARE EWENNY POTTERY SLIPWARE WASSAIL BOWL & COVER, DATED 1832-33 glazed in yellow over red with sgraffito decoration, the base with eighteen plain strap handles decorated with circles and zig-zags, repeated interlocking circles below the rim and the inscription 'WIM Clay Pits - 1833' below the handles, the domed cover topped with a figure kneeling before a round table of objects and surrounded by chickens and two foxes, one fox with a mouse in its mouth, inscribed 'William James Tonyrevil Jany 12th 1832', 39cm high
Provenance: from the collection of Gwyneth and the late Ieuan Evans, with Bonhams
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. The bowls were normally made for the village as a whole and the inscriptions, William James in this case, referred to the donor of the bowl rather than a custodian or owner. 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.
Condition Report: restoration including to head of figure, damage to extremities commensurate with age and nature of bowl and its usage, firing cracks, this is a superb example of an original iconic Welsh ceramic folk-object
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