'The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight, Opened', Digby 1669: “To make Bragot, He takes the first running of such Ale, and boils a less proportion of Honey in it, then when He makes His ordinary Meath; but dubble or triple as much spice and herbs. As for Example to twenty Gallons of the Strong-wort, he puts eight or ten pound, (according as your taste liketh more or less honey) of honey; But at least triple as much herbs, and triple as much spice as would serve such a quantity of small Mead as He made Me (For to a stronger Mead you put a greater proportion of Herbs and Spice, then to a small; by reason that you must keep it a longer time before you drink it; and the length of time mellows and tames the taste of the herbs and spice). And when it is tunned in the vessel (after working with the barm) you hang in it a bag with bruised spices (rather more then you boiled in it) which is to hang in the barrel all the while you draw it."
A very similar bragget pot, also dated 1697, was sold at Sotheby's, London, October 7, 1968, lot 33, featuring the same bold design of tulips and roses with only slight differences in the inscription. It is also inscribed with the initials BB on one side and RF on reverse, and is now at Colonial Williamsburg, illustrated by Leslie B. Grigsby, English Slip-Decorated Earthenware at Williamsburg, Williamsburg, 1993, pp. 50-52, no. 57, where the author notes these kinds of cups were probably given as a congratulation gift at a wedding or other festive event.
The same initials RF appear together with those of William Simpson on a jug sold at Sotheby’s, London, June 4, 1968, lot 103, The Property of Mrs. George Morton, where it was suggested that the initials RF could possibly stand for the potting family of Fletcher, contemporaries of Simpson at Burslem.
Four pots of this form are illustrated by Leslie B. Grigsby, The Longridge Collection of English Slipware and Delftware, Vol. 1, London, 2000, pp. 128-129, where the author notes the initials “RF” appear on at least nine vessels, “IB” on eight, “WS” on six, and “BB” on three. Excepting “BB” (not found with “WS”) every initial pair among these has been found in some combination with every other pair. Dated cups are recorded with inscribed years between 1692 and 1725. A pot dated 1703, inscribed with the same motto as the present lot, was part of the Harriet Carlton Goldweitz Collection, sold in these rooms, January 20, 2006, lot 37, formerly sold, Sotheby’s, London, May 27, 1975, lot 3.
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