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Wemyss Ware sampler mug: C.9-2002

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Wemyss Ware sampler mug


Pottery: Robert Heron & Son




White earthenware mug, painted in polychrome enamels with a sampler pattern.

White earthenware, glazed, and painted in bluish-green, green, dark pink, and black enamels. Cylindrical with a recessed base, a loop handle with vertical rib, and a lower end which tapers to a point on the side of the body. The sides are decorated with a sample pattern. On the front is a three-chimney house and garden surrounded by a hedge, with gates at the front. On each side of it there are two pot plants, three pyramidal trees, two hearts pierced by an arrow, a floral sprig, and two cockerels, one above the other. Above the house is a verse, painted in black except for the first letter of each line which is dark pink:
A little health a little wealth
A little house with freedom
And at the end a little friend
With little cause to need him
Around the top there is a border of paired dark pink and green leaves. The rim, and the rib down the handle are outlined in bluish-green.


History note: Purchased at Sotheby's Gleneagles, 27 August, 2002, Jewels, Silver and Wemyss Pottery, p. 26, lot 406

Legal notes

Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Measurements and weight

Height: 14.2 cm
Width: 17.2 cm

At the moment, this record does not display units or type of measurements. We will rectify this as soon as possible.

Place(s) associated

  • Kirkcaldy ⪼ Fife ⪼ Scotland

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2002-10-14) by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


Late 19th-early 20th Century
1882 CE - 1930 CE


In 1930, the Wemyss Ware brand was bought by Bovey Pottery in Bovey Tracey, Devon, where it was produced until 1957. In 1985 Griselda Hill revived the style and the name, and employed Esther Weeks who had trained as a decorator at Bovey Tracey under Karel’s son Joseph Nekola. It is still in production at her pottery in Ceres, Fife. Wemyss Ware is highly collectable – one of the largest collections was formed by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The lines ‘A little health… …little cause to need him’ are quoted in various 19th Century publications, including ‘The Lady’s Miscellany’, New York, 11 May 1811, where it is referred to as a toast.

Wemyss Ware was introduced in 1882 by Robert Heron at the Gallatown Pottery in Kirkacaldy, Fife, where pots had been produced since 1817; he recruited designers from across Europe, including Karel Nekola from Bohemia, to design it. Wemyss Ware typically features hand-painted naturalistic under-glaze decoration, such as wildlife, fruit and flowers (particularly the cabbage rose), and is found in animal form (notably cats and pigs) as well as functional items. The sampler design on this mug is unusual, though the style of decoration and the white background and green line around the rim are typical of early Wemyss.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( bluish-green, green, dark pink, and black)

Materials used in production

white Earthenware

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Sotheby's sale label which was removed.

  • Type: Label
  • Text: WEMYSS
  • Location: Into base
  • Method of creation: Impressed, faintly
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.9-2002
Primary reference Number: 81583
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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