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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 Article Commentary from - A Pewter Society Member

The information you have extracted on the Abbot dynasty from the 1901 article is interesting, but the early history isn't consistent with the information supplied to the late Peter Starling by Tyne & Wear County Archives and published in the Spring 1982 (Pewter Society) Journal. More research is needed to confirm the true history.

Thanks for the excellent image of the Abbot-crown-sun/star mark from a member of the public, which is now on the database at PS13074. Whether it's a sun or a star is not easy to assess on something this small. Heraldically, stars can have up to 8 points, as this has, whereas a sun normally has more than 8 radiating rays, and they should be alternately straight and wavy.

The Article Referred to - by the late Peter Starling

Journal of the Pewter Society Spring 1982


Cotterell's No. 3 is Thomas Abbott of London, with no recorded touch mark. In 'M.P.M~', Chris. Peal allotted a touch of 'ABBOT', followed by a crown and a star, to this number, but in 'Addenda' quoted a suggestion from Michael Boorer that, due to the prevalence of North Country verifications in pieces bearing this mark, it really belonged to an unrecorded Newcastle Abbot.

While on holiday in Yorkshire this summer, I found an interesting-looking pint pot. One is always hopeful of finding P.I.Ps., and this one looked quite early, with tongued handle and a very narrow 'attention' terminal, not much taper to the body and not much reeding, or flare, to the skirt. However, it had one pre-1879 and three post-1879 Cumberland verifications, and a late-looking 'PINT' in small letters, which seemed to indicate fairly late manufacture.

There was also a mark inside the base, which I could not identify until I reached home, when it turned out to be the 'MPM' mark allotted to Cotterell No.3, as above. On the strength of the note in 'Addenda' I spoke to Michael Boorer, who said he had no direct proof, but had made a reasonable deduction from the evidence available, and suggested we had yet another field of research here. He also gave me a detailed description over the phone of my newly-acquired pot, so I knew we were on the same ground.

I then made enquiry of what is now Tyne and Wear County Archives and they produced an interesting story, which I quote in full :-

“The Abbot to whom you refer must I think be the business founded in Gateshead by James Abbot, Brazier, in 1795. By 1804 his son Joseph was advertising for tinmen and journeymen. In 1825 John Abbot had a small business in Bush Yard, Oakwellgate, Gateshead, and employed about thirty men on brass, copper and pewter work. After that date there was rapid expansion and diversification. By 1827 the firm were, for example, also making chain cables and nails, and in 1831 had 190 employees. In 1889 the works covered some 14½ acres and employed about 1750 men. In a trade directory for that year, Messrs John Abbot and Co. Ltd., were described as 'Iron manufacturers, boiler builders, anchor manufacturers, hydraulic engineers, brass founders, coppersmiths, plumbers, gasfitters and smiths, Park Works, South Shore Road, Gateshead. The firm was incorporated in 1864, and continued until 1909, when it went into voluntary liquidation. I am not aware of any surviving records of the business."
I had not really expected to ring the bell so effectively, but here is confirmation that Michael's 'hunch' was a sound one, and another useful glimmer of light in the darkness. Obviously the ‘ABBOT' mark does not relate to Cotterell No. 3, Abbott, T., but to Abbot, J. (James, Joseph, or John?), who will, when someone in the future next tackles the task, receive his own separate number at last.
Meanwhile, I speculate. Was it James, Joseph or John Abbot who made the first mug? When did he start, and when was the last one made? Had they stopped making mugs before 1889, or, somewhere in those 14½, acres, was one of the 1750 men still turning out an occasional batch of mugs to order from old moulds? In fact, did they start making mugs in pre-Imperial days and never buy any new moulds, but carry on making the same type of mugs, perhaps for 100 years? Perhaps we shall never find out, but at least we know a little more than we did.
P.H. Starling.