Welcome to Pewterbank
Website security

Last Updated 29-05-2017

ABBOT – A FASCINATION

My interest in Abbot pewter mugs evolved from eventually realising that I had never seen mugs so well made to suit the customer and hard working end user.

The simplicity of style, and the strength of that style, I thought ideal for the Tyneside where they were created and the heavy manual work of that and the surrounding areas. Here was a mug which the landlord was not going to lose because of the fine work of a double scroll handle or the sometimes delicacy of a footed base unable to withstand the enthusiasms of his customers.

Further investigation revealed a rich variety of mostly Northern verification marks and my thanks to Ricketts and Douglas for the stunning Marks and Markings of Weights and Measures of The British Isles that helped me to identify most of them.

There are also very slight differences in the single fillet, some changes to the incised lines to the foot, thinner and thicker lip rims, and a little variety to the rings and marks often in the base of the truncated cone style that is more readily found. Imagine the salesman’s work in trying to extol the virtues of the ‘new’ models where the changes were so slight.

There were likely to be types and styles other than the truncated cone – the three bellied measures shown here are said to be Abbots, they certainly have the strength, simplicity, likely date, and verification marks - but no confirming touch marks. Before I decided to collect Abbots I did sell on the one spouted quart that I have seen.

Accumulation of Abbots is unlikely to reward with monetary value as many have survived in good condition. Most of those I illustrate here I have cleaned.

ABBOT – A FEW DETAILS FROM THE KNOWN HISTORY

To H. H. Cotterell and the early members of the Pewter Society the Abbot must have seemed about as recent and interesting as an early DFS chair would seem to most of us today.

However from an article entitled Newcastle and Tyneside Sketches and Reviews (of 1901) I have culled the following information which indicates something of the huge success the Abbot dynasty was responsible for. Sincere thanks to Len Hall, a Pewter Society member  for providing me with this additional information.

‘Everyone who has sailed up or down the Tyne past Gateshead has observed the Parks Works, with their long frontage upon the river and no one we may confidently assert, viewing this immense place for the first time, can have gazed upon it with indifference’ ‘this is one of the great Tyneside engineering and ironworking establishments, and the headquarters of a firm of world wide fame’ –

Joseph Abbot, was the founder of the concern (in 1776 – absent from Old Pewter) was succeeded in 1812 by his son John Abbot and he enlarged the business to such an extent that the erection of park Works became justified (in 1836)’

he died in 1863 at age 81 one of the first Aldermen of Gateshead and although frequently asked to become Mayor, always declined that honour’ – ‘the brass and iron foundries, the machine shops and the smithies were among the early departments’ – ‘added (later) the large anchor works and chain cable works’ ‘property of fifteen acres traversed by railway sidings with connection to the North-eastern line, and the finest water frontage on the river’ – ‘ a vast hive of industry’ - ‘employs nearly 2000 hands’ – John Abbot was succeeded by John George Abbot and William Brown making it of limited liability in 1864’ - ‘John George’s wife’s brother I W Adamson, JP LLD magistrate, ex County Councillor and High Sheriff of Northumberland was made Chairman of the Company’ –

‘Abbots are especially known for their hydraulic plant, cranes, hoists, and capstans, compound tandem hydraulic pumping engines, steam engines, high pressure factory boilers, chain cable and anchor testing machines, pulley frames, equipment for collieries, sole makers of the Lion Stockless Anchor one of thebest in the market, every kind of round square and flat iron, channel and horseshoe iron, rails, tram plates, bulb and gun iron, bars, sheets, hoops of iron – they can turn out castings from a few ounces up to 30 tons weight (perhaps the only oblique reference to pewter mugs!!!!!!), pipes 30" diameter for the Newcastle and Gateshead water works, steam gas air and water cocks, plant for the Hydraulic Power Companies of Melbourne, Marseilles, Amsterdam, Wellington New Zealand, London, Southampton and Sunderland – a London office at Suffolk House, Laurence Pountney Hill, and a Glasgow office – facilitating the routine of a trade which extends all over the civilised world.’

One employee an Alexander Petrie worked for Abbots for 66 years and was noted as the oldest workman on Tyneside. (An American collector knows of perhaps 3 mugs signed, as it were, by Alexander Petrie as maker, used as presentation pieces for local worthies – as a pewterer then his career would likely go back to the early 1830s.)

Hearsay indicates that bombing put an end to all that and all of the records also but this could be wrong as the Pewter Society database say they went into voluntary liquidation in 1909.

Is it possible that these pewter mugs were perhaps especially designed with the ‘2000 hands’ in mind?

Recently the PCCA had an article on an Abbot Mug decorated in ‘Repousse’ style. The owner (the Editor of the PCCA Journal) has two such - but we don’t know the size or the purpose. I was shocked. To me it was as though the makers of the Morris 1000 motor car had produced a version with fintails, alloy sport wheels, bull bars, spot lights, and a winged lady mascot on the bonnet! They are so scarcely found that perhaps the idea did not appeal to the customers. Also I have no idea how the ‘Repousse’ hammer work could be carried out within a cast mug.

Understanding the Abbot of Gateshead genealogy –

It is easy to become confused concerning the Abbot dynasty of Gateshead.

H H Cotterell identifies three Abbot pewterers. If for the sake of this consideration we ignore OP 1 John Abbot of London in 1693 that leaves –

OP 2 Thomas Abbot, London 19 June 1712 Y and

OP 3 Thomas Abbot, London from 1792 to death in 1852 at age 83 Master of the Company in 1811

Looking at Christopher Peal in More Pewter Marks we find –

At OP 1b George Abbott (note two Ts) 1664

At OP 3 Thomas Abbott 1792 Y died 1852

And here shows the pot touch shown in the Pewter Society data base – ABBOT (Crown) (Star?) – the mugs made at Gateshead-on-Tyne, hence an incorrect attribution.

In Addendum to More Pewter Marks Christopher Peal quotes M B as saying this mark (to OP3) belongs to an unrecorded Newcastle Abbot. (thus correcting the previous attribution)

Carl Ricketts in Pewterers of London finds

George Abbott about 1663

John Abbott (OP 1) about 1678

Thomas Abbott (OP 2) about 1712

Thomas Abbott (OP 3) about 1792 Master in 1811 dead in 1852

The Pewter Society database in late 2007 – finds 4 Abbott and 5 Abbot – with Gateshead it is safe to say it is Abbot we are concerned with and from the last quarter of the 18th century onwards. The five found within the database are

James Abbot of Gateshead of about 1795

Joseph Abbot of Gateshead working 1804 - son of former mentioned James Abbot

John Abbot of Gateshead working 1825 – 1864 when the company became incorporated (a Ltd liability company) the Abbot crown star touch is shown.

John Abbot and Co. Ltd – went into voluntary liquidation in 1909 - no evidence they were making pewter in 1889 – a not very clear touch of the limited company is shown

William Abbot of London perhaps about 1670

The article of 1901 headed Newcastle and Tyneside Reviews and John Abbot & Co Ltd

Gives this chronology

Joseph Abbot (father of John) working 1776 – 1812 no mention found of pewter working

John Abbot (son of Joseph) working 1812 to ? - died in 1863

John George Abbot (son of John Abbot) and William Brown (Directors) in 1864 trading as John Abbot & Co.Limited

Where does this leave us –

We must ask if the PS database entry for Joseph Abbot needs any revision - if there were two Abbot families?, - were there only one family then the father son relationship and dates are unlikely to be correct.

We can only surmise as the Abbot business was based on castings that the start of the business may have involved the production of Pewter - certainly it is unknown when the Abbot Crown Star touch commenced.

(I am reminded here of how the Joseph Morgan beehive pot touch has a variable number of bees flying around it – the differing numbers of bees must have expressed some purpose – perhaps this star does also.)

It is however likely the J Abbot & Co LD touch commenced in or about 1864 and that the partnership of the last named John George Abbot and William Brown (Directors) were therefore pewterers - albeit a small part of their business and definitely management - unlikely to have dirty hands.

Touchmarks or Pot touches

There appears on 18 of my mugs a verification of ABBOT Crown (shown within one and two and three circles and definitely no room for the additional star) which mark is not shown in the PS database. Of the over 20 marked mugs I have collected at random – none have the mark shown on the database with the star after the crown. However the previously mentioned USA collector, perhaps the leading authority in the world on matters relating to the Abbot pewter, says he has two or three mugs with this pot touch of ABBOT Crown Star, he also says that on the bellied measures the J ABBOT & Co. (maybe also L D) is found to the left of the handle on the rim of some bellied Abbots.

This verification of J ABBOT & CO LD (Capital L and smaller raised capital D – abbreviation for Limited) we can perhaps safely assume is from 1864 onwards.

The Pewter Society database suggests no evidence of making pewter after 1889. I have three mugs with incised rings instead of a fillet and a strong lip rim bearing mainly verifications of the years 96,97,98,99 suggesting later manufacture than 1889 - perhaps.

The Pewter Society database suggests manufacturing of pewter from 1825 onwards. I hold a mug with the early Northumberland Verification from 1826-1835 and another with a WIV verification for Westmorland East (likely around 1835.) so my small sample agrees with this – surely the likelihood is that the business he carried on from his father also made Pewter Mugs (from 1775?) – conjecture, of course, but then it seemed to be a business that grew from small castings to large castings..

The earlier mugs (those with early verifications) all tend to be lighter in weight and with lip rims not quite as strong as the later ones. Thus the verification of ABBOT Crown Star - if someone else has one and would weigh it – the weight might give some indication of age – earlier (before 1864) I think would be lighter (weight of Pint under 500 gms) or later (say Pint over 500 gms.)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

For those interested in weights and measures I include below a few figures taken from a sampling of the truncated cone mugs I have.

SIZE

WEIGHT IN GRAMS

WEIGHT IN OUNCES

HEIGHT FROM TABLE TO TOP OF LIP RIM IN INCHES

DIAMETER OF FOOTRIM

IN INCHES

PINT

538

19 1/8

4.41

3.86

PINT

488

17 1/8

4.28

3.64

PINT

526

18 1/2

4.41

3.85

HALF PINT

390

13 3/4

3.51

3.2

HALF PINT

354

12 1/2

3.51

3.1

HALF PINT

332

11 1/2

3.51

3.12

QUART

824

29 1/8

6

4.53

QUART

934

33

6

4.53

QUART

958

33

6

4.53

An older pint filled to the rim top held 287 ml

A more recent pint filled to the rim top held 290 ml

Older pints certainly appear to be lighter of weight

To conclude; - a friend having read this article and having looked intently at the photographs suggested I should perhaps ‘get out more’

Further reading - The Abbot Article

 

 

 

 

Back To Top

 

Site Design & Build by
Lee Rushton