The Berry Tankard - who owned it?

by Jane Owen and Michael Free
Image
A cracked white porcelain tankard showing repairs on a black background
The Berry Tankard

Connections to shipping

Our volunteers have tried to find out who might have owned the precious ceramic tankard in our archaeology collection. Could it be a master mariner or someone connected with Trinity House? The burial records for Castle Street indicate that there were several ship's captains and master mariners buried there, but we cannot be sure of a name, especially as bodies were moved in the burial ground in the late 1800s. We don't have an accurate record of plot location. 

Clues and theories

A painting in Hull Maritime Museum collection illustrates three whaling ships owned by a very well know Hull man, Sir Samuel Standidge. He was certainly NOT buried at Castle Street when he died in 1801, but at the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin in Lowgate Hull, where he is commemorated in the church with a marble plaque. But, one of his captains may have owned this tankard. What do you think? Do the strawberries on the side give us clues? Is this a visual pun?

Biography of the painting

Painting of whaling boats with billowing sails polar bears and ice
The Hull Whaling Fleet of Sir Samuel Standidge - Unknown Artist (1769). Oil on canvas, 50.8 x 60.7cm KINCM:2005.5061, Hull Maritime Museum.

The vessels named in the painting are The Berry, Britannia, and British Queen. The first vessel looks similar to the one drawn under the glaze of our tankard.

In the foreground of this painting you can see polar bears standing on  frozen icy land, telling you that the whaling ships went to very cold places to catch whales.

According to maritime historians at Hull's Maritime Museum, the flag at the back of the ship on the right hand side, indicates that a whale has been caught. A the bottom left of the picture, the sailors in the boat have speared a whale and are dragging it towards the large boats.

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