This picture is of a beautiful Japanware piece in the Torfaen Museum collection, which is a pouring vessel decorated here in Pontypool in the eighteenth century and decorated in the ‘Stormont’ style (a long ‘never-ending wavy line).

Although it looks like a teapot it is not but is in fact an ‘Argyll’.

The Duke of Argyll’s family were for several centuries among the most powerful noble families in Scotland and the Dukes of Argyll also hold the hereditary titles of chief of Clan Campbell and Master of the Household of Scotland.

Field Marshal John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, was a senior commander in the British Army who served on the continent in the Nine Years' War and fought at the Battle of Kaiserwerth during the War of the Spanish Succession.

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He was also very fond of continental sauces on his meat dishes. The 2nd Duke is credited with introducing the concept of the ‘sauce boat’ to Britain from the French court in the early 1700s and so many of them are known as ‘Argyll’s.

In Pontypool, also in the early 1700s, the Allgood family set up their first Japanware workshop in a small cottage in Trosnant. At first the articles produced were small domestic articles such as candlesticks, tea trays, butter dishes and powder boxes. They were decorated in imitation tortoiseshell with Chinese landscapes, figures or floral designs.

But the Japanware business quickly began to expand. People began to order special items or personalised pieces with commissioned portraits or landscapes, even pictures of their own homes and gardens. Japanware became very fashionable and so the items produced at the Pontypool works were very expensive. So it is no surprise that the workshop in Pontypool was producing the newly fashionable Argylls or sauce boats.

So how do we know if the piece is an Argyll or a sauce or gravy pot? One instant way of telling is that originally teapots were designed to make tea from loose leaves of tea (again, very expensive in the eighteenth century) thus inside an early teapot is a small, enclosed box of mesh – which holds the tea leaves and strains them once the hot water is poured inside.

An Argyll has no strainer but sauce or gravy is just poured in through the lid and poured or served out onto the dish.

This piece of Japanware, alongside many more pieces from both the Torfaen Museum and the National Museum Wales collections are viewable in the museum in Pontypool, which will re-open to the public Tuesday to Thursday 10am-4pm and 1pm-4pm on weekends from Tuesday, August 11.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.