A distilling vessel in Totnes–type ware

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A distilling vessel in Totnes–type ware

With its coarse sandy fabric containing a few black mica plates and its dull mid-green glaze, the vessel is typical of the pottery used in the area of Totnes in South Devon, for which the term ‘Totnes type ware’ has been coined. Such pottery was never popular in the ceramics market at Exeter.

The vessel has an unusual form with a distinct flat shoulder below the upright rim. Vessels of this form were known as cucurbits and were used in distillation; liquid would be boiled inside this vessel. A second vessel, with a domed top and an open bottom, would sit on the shoulder and gather the distilled liquid, which would be drained into a receiver. Stills are occasionally listed in the inventories of Exeter people at the time: for example the apothecary Charles Eveleigh had two glass stills in 1661.

The vessel was found in a stone-lined pit at Trichay Street with a mix of late 16th - and early 17th- century goods.

Publication: Allan, J.P. 1984 'Medieval and Post-Medieval Finds from Exeter' No. 2137.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum

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