Ceramic Sherd

Ceramic Sherd

what_sherdWhat is What?

Recent excavations at the Print House site recovered this fragment of tin glazed earthenware decorated in blue. The sherd has the word “what” on it plus a fragmentary part of a line of script above. A review of the published literature suggests that this may be a fragment of what is known as a Merryman Plate .

plateWhat is a Merryman?

Starting around 1680 and continuing through the 17th and 18th centuries, sets of tin glazed plates were made in England which are known to collectors as “Merryman” plates. All appear to have been decorated in blue and contained the same lines of doggerel verse.

What is a Merryman
Let him do what he can
To entertain his guests
With wine and merry jest
But if his wife do frown
All merriment goes down


When were Merrymans?

The decoration appears on dated examples from as early as 1682. The graph shows the popularity of the decoration through time. After a period of popularity in the 1680s and 1690s the decoration is less common until the 1720s through 1740s when the decoration stages a comeback.


graphWhy are there Merrymans?
These plates served both as decoration and as utilitarian dining pieces. Their sentiment reflects a common theme of hospitality and the need for restraint created by the tempering influence of a female presence.
what on what



<  Back to Art-N-Facts Gallery