These curious jugs are often seen as a novelty and while they're an interesting talking piece, it's important to remember they're fully functional jugs as well.
Cow Creamers History
As with many things from Staffordshire’s pottery past, it's hard to be certain about a precise year when ceramic Cow Creamers first appeared, or which of the many ingenious manufacturers first created one in this area. Cow jugs would seem to have been made in the Netherlands first, and eventually started to appear in Staffordshire in the mid 1700’s. From this period, a clear craze took off, with a great many potters producing a version; mostly salt glazed and made from a stone ware clay.
Early examples are rarely marked but it's known that many of the great makers of the day produced a version. Some more complex than others, they all tend to have a tail that forms the handle and an open mouth which forms the spout. Beyond that, the design can very wildly. Some have farmers, milkmaids and even dogs alongside, while simpler versions can feature ornate lids or resplendent horns.
From this rich history, our pottery founded in 1851, has of course produced a number of different ‘cow creamer jugs’, but our present shape cow has its own interesting journey.
Burleigh has long held the practice of purchasing shape moulds, engravings and patterns as factories close down around us. Whilst it's always a great sadness to lose any manufacturer, we have become a final resting place for all manner of production and design pieces, usually from lesser-known and sometimes forgotten potteries. These treasures remain in our archive until the day they're required; that may be decades, or it may be much sooner.
What Is A Cow Creamer
In 1982, the company of S Fielding, makers of pottery under the brand name ‘Crown Devon’, closed their doors for the final time. We decided to purchase a number of shape moulds on this occasion. One of which was a ‘Cow Creamer’. Simple and practical unlike many other designs, it was crucially aesthetically pleasing. It's the perfect shape for our style; everything we produce that has a practical purpose should really work, and work well. It's highly unusual in design as it's a ‘Reclining Cow’, which makes it a lot more practical for a modern-day user, plus its larger opening around the mouth ensures it has a good pour.
Despite this item being one of our trickiest pieces to make, it takes a great deal of skill to decorate and compared to its size it requires a lengthy time to travel through the production process, we also understand the important place it holds in our collection.
As far as we're aware, we are the last manufacturer making a Cow Creamer at present. Although a few have made them recently, we're certainly the only ones left with the item under constant production. As with many elements of our production process, we aim to protect and celebrate the long history of Staffordshire pottery making, and the important place the town of Burslem holds in global craftsmanship.
If you're interested in seeing some other examples of cow creamers, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, houses the ‘Keiller collection’ which comprises of 667 ceramic cows, two thirds of which is on permanent display. You can of course find them in our Factory Shop and may even be lucky enough to watch them being made on a Burleigh Factory Tour!
Coming in a variety of colours and patterns, our Cow Creamers are available online.