WADE FLOWER JUGS by Ian Warner and Mike Posgay

In the early years of the twentieth century, the Wade potteries in Burslem had been best known for their teapots. In the 1920s decorative flower jugs made an appearance in the gift ware line. This addition to the Wade line came at a particularly difficult time for the potteries. The big Depression had hit the country hard and the potteries were suffering.

An article in the July 1933 issue of The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review stated: “...Of growing interest is the range of wares being produced by Wade, Heath & Co., Ltd., in miscellaneous wares such as...... bowls, vases and flower jugs. We learn there that there is an increasing demand for these,...” It would appear from this quote that the Wade potteries were doing not too badly a few years after the big crash of 1929.

A columnist for The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review stated in the March 1933 issue, after a visit to the Wade pottery: “..A giant flower jug, some 16” in height, is one that will appeal to many as being particularly useful for a window recess...this piece is spoken of in the works as the “Soudan Major.”

Fig.1. illustrates a fine example of an Art Deco flower jug, a style so popular in the 1930s. This 11-3/4” high flower jug was produced by Wade, Heath & Co., Ltd. in 1936 with decoration No. 4486. The jug is Shape No. 164 and is marked “sample” on the underside of the base.

The September 1935 issue of The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review described the “Big, Bad Wolf” flower jug (Fig. 2) as: “..the new “Little Pig” jug,... It is a whole fable expressed in a single piece of pottery. Portrayed in bas relief there is the story of the house built by the builder pig, whilst the handle of the jug represents the big, bad wolf ... immediately the jug is lifted, plays out the tune of the “Big, Bad Wolf.” Other musical jugs produced by Wade included the “Snow White” jug and “The Lambeth Walk” jug. All of these jugs were also made available in nonmusical versions. The musical jugs are highly sought after by collectors and often command very high prices.

The Art Deco style flower jugs of the late 1920’s and the 1930’s manufactured by Wade, Heath & Co. Ltd. were often very simple in shape and decoration however a number were quite elaborate with hand-painted decorations as illustrated in Fig. 3. These three small flower jugs are Shape No. 106M and stand 5-1/2” high. These are the smallest of three sizes to be found in this shape.

Fig. 4. shows two jugs of similar shape and size but with different decorations. The jugs are Shape No. 120 and are 8-3/4” high. The jug on the left with the mottled finish is marked: Roskyll Pottery on the underside of the base. The jug was actually made by Wade Heath but as an outside contract for Roskyll Pottery who did not want the Wade name on the pieces. The jug on the right is marked Wade Heath.

Another popular theme for flower jugs in the 1930s were jugs with either bird handles as shown in Fig 5. with a woodpecker handle or jugs in the shape of bird baths or bird houses, again with bird shape handles. The jug illustrated stands 7-1/2” high and is Shape No. 13. This shape is also found in a slightly smaller size. Fig 6. illustrates a flower jug in the form of a bird house. This jug is Shape No. 168 and is 8-3/4” high. As with most of Wade Heath flower jugs, this shape jug is to be found with a number of different color combinations.

Many Wade Heath flower jugs of the 1930s were issued with special decals commemorating royal events. Fig. 7. shows a 5-1/2” high jug, Shape No. 88m, issued for the coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This jug is also to be found with a decal featuring Edward VIII for his coronation; an event that never took place!

Although Wade water jugs tend to be large and take up space, they do make a particularly colorful and interesting display when set out, side by side.

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