We are all familiar with stoneware in its various usual forms - bottles for beer and hot water, cylindrical pots for marmalade and jam, flagons and jugs - but something much earlier and far rarer appeared as Lot 41 in Stamford's Leading Auctioneers BATEMANS, Monthly Antiques Sale on 7th August ...
Standing 39cm ( 15") high, and dating to circa 1755, this salt glazed stoneware bottle was of ovoid form with narrowed foot, grooved strap handle, and which lifted this bottle into another level entirely, two medallions applied to the upper body. Each of these was moulded in relief depicting the same man - in one he is standing with the aid of crutches and has raised lettering above him declaring 'Oh the Gout', and in the other he is standing without support and the raised lettering above him states 'Drink and be well'. The lower body was inscribed with the text 'Iron Peartree Water near Godstone Surry'.
A cataloguing note from a similar example sold by Bonhams, in December 2003 for £2,151 (inc premium), explains interestingly the history of these particular bottles ...
"A similar bottle is discussed by Jonathan Horne in 'A catalogue of English Brown Stoneware from the 17th and 18th Centuries', pub. 1985; the landlord of a Surrey inn, a Mr. Bonwick, had a pear tree in the garden which habitually grew inedible hard small pears. Troubled with gout, Bonwick sank a new well near the tree to avoid having to fetch water from further afield, and the ale he brewed using this water cured him of the gout and was subsequently sold in London in large quantities."
It sold for an extremely healthy £5,280 (incl. 20% B.P.) against estimates of £300 - £500!
The buyer, a private UK collector, secured it after 3½ minutes of bidding on the telephone against several other lines and three online bidding platforms. It remains to be seen whether it will cure anyone of gout 260 years after it was first used!
The full catalogue listing can be found here: