Historical information

The subject item is believed to be a "Chinese style stoneware liquor bottle used to store "Tiger Whiskey" (rice wine). These Chinese liquor bottles are made of glazed pottery known as brown stoneware and have been made throughout the centuries by many makers until well after American Prohibition. Later varieties from the mid 20th century are commonly found in the USA with the raised lettering "Federal Law Forbids Sale Or Re-use of this bottle" a sure sign of post-1934 manufacture. This example is interesting as it has a British Minton mark of two triangles on the base indicating a date of 1879 and was likely exported to Australia by Minton. These ceramic bottles virtually always have irregularities and flaws which indicate a product has been hastily manufactured, in any event, this is a fine example of a relatively common item that may have been copied by Minton and sold as a decorative domestic item for display or mass produced for storing liquor. Giles Family: The pair of ceramic bottles were given to Vera Giles by Jim Thompson and are just many 19th century items of furniture, linen and crockery donated to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village by, Vera and Aurelin Giles. The items are associated with Warrnambool and the Giles Family history. Items donated by the family have come to be known as the “Giles Collection”. Many items in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage were donated by Vera and Aurelin Giles and mostly came from the home of Vera’s parents-in-law, Henry Giles and his wife Mary Jane (nee Freckleton) who married in 1880 and whose photos are on display in the parlour. Henry was born at Tower Hill in 1858, and was a labourer on the construction of the Warrnambool Breakwater before leaving in 1895 for around seven years to build bridges in NSW. Mary Jane was born in 1860 at Cooramook and she attended Mailor’s Flat State School and where she eventually was to become a student teacher. After which she became a governess at “Injemiara” where her grandfather, Francis Freckleton, had once owned land. Henry and Mary’s family consisted of six, some of the children were born at Mailor’s Flat and later some children at Wangoom. They lived with their parents at Wangoom and Purnim west, and this is where Henry died in 1933 and Mary Jane in 1940.

Significance

A significant item of lead-glazed ceramic with the possibility it was made by the Minton potteries in England who were renowned for making quality pottery. The item style is in all probability a copy of a Chinese liquor bottle that was in common use throughout the British colonies and America up until the mid 20th Century. The Giles family collection has social significance at a local level, because it illustrates the level of material support the Warrnambool community gave to Flagstaff Hill when the Museum was established.

Physical description

Chinese liquor bottle one of a pair, lead glazed ceramic, dark brown and blue/black. Part of the Giles Collection.

Inscriptions & markings

Mark of a double triangle, apex touching, on base, (Minton mark for 1879).