News story

Culture Minister defers export of historic silver-gilt mounted stoneware tankard

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a silver-gilt mounted Rhenish salt-glazed stoneware drinking tankard

This object is from the early years of the reign of Edward VI. This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep this historic item in the United Kingdom. 

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the drinking vessel is of outstanding significance for the study of the history and influence of Protestant ideology on domestic life in sixteenth century England.

The armorials on the cover of the vessel have been identified by the College of Arms as being those of the Warde family. The silver-gilt mounts carry the mark for 1550, the year William Warde (1534-1609) went up from Eton to King’s College, Cambridge. Warde went on to become an accomplished translator of important Continental physicians’ texts.

The London marks on the mount provide an important date for the introduction of this type of stoneware into England and also demonstrate the spread of English fashion for taking everyday domestic objects and turning them into luxury items through the use of elaborate mounts. This began in Court circles and spread into the emergent middle class.  This tankard is unique for a vessel of this age in bearing an English inscription loosely derived from a verse in the Gospel of St John: ‘+ BVT + WHO: DRYNKETH: OF THE WATER: OF LYFE + SHALL + NEVER + THYRSTE: AG’ [AIN].

The translation of the Bible from Latin into English was one of the key achievements of the Protestant reformers in the 1530s and 40s.  The use of Protestant sentiment on a piece of domestic tableware at this date is otherwise unrecorded.  It is significant that the tankard belongs to the early years of the reign of Edward VI when those at the centre of political and religious life, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Council, were advancing their religious reforms.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee, said: “This unique tankard reflects a critical moment in English sixteenth-century history and of the Protestant doctrine’s spread across this country.  The inscription may also possibly serve as an encouragement from an anxious father to the young William Warde to temper his own drinking as he began his university career!”

The decision on the export licence application for the drinking tankard will be deferred for a period ending on 10th August 2010 inclusive. This period may be extended until 10th November 2010 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase it at the recommended fair market price of £179,787.50 (including VAT on the buyer’s premium) is expressed.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase this rare stoneware drinking tankard should contact the owner’s agent through:
The Secretary
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Grosvenor House
14 Bennetts Hill
B2 5RS
Telephone 0121 345 7428

Notes to Editors

  1. For all media enquiries please contact Senior Media Relations Adviser,  Sunita Sharma, on 020 7273 8299, e-mail: The image is available to download from DCMS’s Flickr photostream.

  2. For enquiries on the operation of, and casework arising from, the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact Sean BC Farran, RCEWA Secretary, on 0121 345 7428, e-mail

  3. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by MLA, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the recommended fair market price.

  4. The details of the drinking tankard are:
    An Edward VI silver-gilt mounted Rhenish salt-glazed stoneware drinking pot, London, 1550, maker’s mark IC monogram 5 # in. (14.3 cm) high

  5. William Warde also translated the sermons of John Calvin.  In 1572 he signed a petition opposing the new University statutes which would allow students to begin their medical training without preliminary training in the arts. He became Regius Professor of Physic in 1591 and was spoken of as physician to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.

  6. Further details about the jug can be found in the auction catalogue at the Christie’s website.

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