Note: The Bellarmine jug discovered at Colonial Pemaquid and usually on display at the museum is on loan to Colonial Williamsburg through January 2011 as part of an exhibit there titled "Pottery With a Past: Stoneware in Early America."
narrow-necked vessel with a bearded mask, at first collectively
called Bartmanner (bearded men) and made at
Frechen, near Cologne, in the 15th century. It was changed
in mockery into the likeness of Cardinal Bellarmine, and became
popular with Protestants under the name bellarmine or gray-beard as a coarse retort to the cardinal's
unanswerable arguments against Protestantism in his Controversies.
From the middle of the fifteenth century until
1700 an important trade developed between the Germans, the
English, the French, and the Dutch. These very durable jugs
were used for wines, ale, oil, vinegar, or water. A prominent
feature of these bottles is a bearded human face which ornaments
the neck opposite the handle and below the thickened lip.
The affectionately-known "old Gray-beard",
an icon of Bellarmine jugs and their time.
When the site of the 1607 Popham colony on the
Maine coast was being excavated in the mid-1990s fragments
of Bellarmine stood out among the other pottery, being "stoneware"
rather than "earthenware." Nine "sherds"
of it were found in 1995 alone. One such fragment, photographed
after a later expedition, is shown here.
Bellarmine has a fine texture, and "a uniform
light grey" color and, along the outside, a thin glaze
with "a brownish tinge." Its surface was treated
with salt, rather than lead or tin, meaning that '[t]he vaporizing
of the salt during glazing creates a characteristic pitted,
or "orange peel" appearance.
Dr. J.P. Brain comments that these "pot-bellied jugs
... were standard for the period ... This type originated
in the Rhineland. It was widely used as a reliable nonporous
shipping and storage container for a variety of liquids before
glass bottles became widely available in the mid-seventeenth
century." [emphasis added]
and masks were frequently added in the seventeenth century.
Two of these sherds [shown above] exhibit floral and other
design elements from medallions typical of the early seventeenth
century (Ivor Noël Hume, pers. comm. to Alaric Faulkner, 1988)
To the left, the fragment's "[f]eatured
motif is the rampant lion of Jülich whose dukes rules Frenchen
where most Bellarmine was made."
This type is also known as "Tigerware," after the
distinctive mottled and streaked appearance of the glaze,
as "Frechen," after the district in the Rhineland
where most of it was made, and as "Bartmann," "d'Alva,"
or "graybeard" when the stylized face masks are
applied to the neck area opposite the handle. Similar ware
made in England is called "Fulham," but there is
no evidence that it was in production early in the seventeenth
century and thus there is no reason to suspect that the Fort
St. George stoneware is not the usual Rhenish product.