Remembering Slavery

Remembering Slavery Online Exhibition

A Taste for the Exotic

Punchbowl

Punchbowl

This punchbowl was probably made at one of the many North East potteries. It is made out of pearlware, a type of cream coloured earthenware. It is decorated with a blue and white landscape pattern, imitating imported Oriental porcelain.

This punch bowl may have been used officially by Newcastle City Council, as the City coat of arms can be found in the centre of the bowl. Punch was an important part of official functions in local government and judicial matters; as societies consolidated their unity in the drinking of toasts.

The original drink was made from five ingredients which usually included red wine, brandy or rum, sugar, fruits and spices (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon or cloves). Because of this it was named panch after the Hindi word for the number five. Many of these ingredients were slave products from the Caribbean plantations.

Sugar, rum and spices formed an important part of the triangular trade, whereby merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. These people were then shipped to the Caribbean to work on the plantations.

  • Punchbowl

    This punchbowl was probably made at one of the many North East potteries. It is made out of pearlware, a type of cream coloured earthenware. It is decorated with a blue and white landscape pattern, imitating imported Oriental porcelain.

    This punch bowl may have been used officially by Newcastle City Council, as the City coat of arms can be found in the centre of the bowl. Punch was an important part of official functions in local government and judicial matters; as societies consolidated their unity in the drinking of toasts.

    The original drink was made from five ingredients which usually included red wine, brandy or rum, sugar, fruits and spices (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon or cloves). Because of this it was named panch after the Hindi word for the number five. Many of these ingredients were slave products from the Caribbean plantations.

    Sugar, rum and spices formed an important part of the triangular trade, whereby merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. These people were then shipped to the Caribbean to work on the plantations.

  • Tea set

    This tea set includes a pear-shaped milk jug with a domed cover; an ovoid teapot with a circular cover and a rectangular tea caddy with canted corners. On one side there is a black transfer-print decoration of 'The Tea Party' while 'The Shepherd' print is on the other side.

    'The Tea Party' print shows a well dressed couple drinking tea in the garden. Beside the couple there is a little black page boy pouring hot water from a kettle into the teapot.

    The couple are wearing the dress of country gentlefolk of the 1760-80s. Initially tea was fairly expensive to buy. However, what began as the fashionable preserve of the wealthy, soon passed down the social scale due to mass production and reduced prices.

    Officially there were no slaves in Britain, although many passed through on their way to the Caribbean or were brought back by former planters. It was fairly commonplace to have a least one black servant in an upper-class household while a black page-boy in an exotic costume became a fashionable status symbol.

    Tea was initially imported into England from China, but by the early 1800s, tea production has been switched to India. The demand for sugar, which was produced by slaves on the Caribbean plantations, was linked to the naturally bitter taste of tea. Sugar made tea more pleasant to drink.

  • Rum decanter

    This rum decanter in turquoise green glass has a square body, canted corners and a cylindrical neck. 'Rum' is gilded on the front, with the letter 'R' on the other three sides.

    Distillation of rum began to take place on the sugar cane plantations of the Carribean in the 1600s. Plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a thick syrup by-product of the sugar refining process, fermented into alcohol.

    Sugar formed a key part of the triangular trade, whereby merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. These people were then shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas to work on the plantations.

    Rum became an important drink especially in the merchant and Naval fleets, and for giving captured Africans on the slave ships. In the 1700s it became popular in the form of 'bumboo' or 'bumbo', a drink mixing rum, sugar, water and nutmeg. British sailors were permitted a daily amount of rum.

    After the development of rum in the Caribbean, its manufacture spread to Colonial America where it became New England's largest and most prosperous industry.

  • Punch ladle

    This punchbowl was probably made at one of the many North East potteries. It is made out of pearlware, a type of cream coloured earthenware. It is decorated with a blue and white landscape pattern, imitating imported Oriental porcelain.

    This punch bowl may have been used officially by Newcastle City Council, as the City coat of arms can be found in the centre of the bowl. Punch was an important part of official functions in local government and judicial matters; as societies consolidated their unity in the drinking of toasts.

    The ladle has a twisted whalebone handle and a silver bowl. The bowl is inset with a 1711 Queen Anne Shilling.

    The original drink was made from five ingredients which usually included red wine, brandy or rum, sugar, fruits and spices (nutmeg, mace, cinnamon or cloves). Because of this it was named panch after the Hindi word for the number five. Many of these ingredients were slave products from the Caribbean plantations.

    Sugar, rum and spices formed an important part of the triangular trade, whereby merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. These people were then shipped to the Caribbean to work on the plantations.

  • Snuff-box

    This egg-shaped snuff box has a flat lid which is hinged to a silver mount. Within the mount is an oval cowrie. In Africa, cowrie shells were used to show wealth and were accepted as a form of currency when trading for slaves.

    Inscribed onto the exterior of the lid is: 'A gift from Mr Luke Clennell to his Uncle Thomas Clennell, Morpeth'. Luke Clennell was born at Ulgham in Northumberland in 1781. He served an apprenticeship to Thomas Bewick, the Northumberland born wood engraver and ornithologist.

    Tobacco refers to the dried leaves of a group of short-leafed plants indigenous to North and South America. Tobacco leaves can be smoked in pipes, chewed in wads or ground up into a fine dust and sniffed as snuff.

    Native Americans used tobacco before Europeans arrived in North and South America. It was these early settlers who learned to smoke and brought the practice back to Europe, where it became hugely popular. By the mid-1700s the British had become addicted to tobacco.

    Early settlers to the North American colony of Virginia had tried unsuccessfully to farm sugar, however, it was ideal for growing tobacco. To begin with, labour was largely provided by indentured Britons. However, as the crop became more valuable, enslaved Africans were increasingly introduced to the plantations.

  • Clay pipe

    This clay pipe has a short broken stem. The bowl is decorated with buffalo horns and is inscribed with the letters RAOB.

    The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) is a social and charitable organisation open to men. The first lodge was founded in London in 1822. There are some similarities with Masonic rites and modes of conduct, however, the Order has never had any official relationship with Freemasonry.

    Tobacco formed an important part of the triangular trade, whereby merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. These people were then shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas to work on the plantations. None of this would have happened on the scale and pace that it did without consumer demand for tobacco which, like sugar, changed from being a luxury to an item of mass consumption.

    Gateshead was a centre for the manufacture of clay tobacco pipes, although the industry did not employ many men. The peak of clay pipe production in Gateshead was the 1800s when the growth in population increased the demand for pipes. There were ten pipe-makers in Gateshead in 1838 but there were also many amateurs, such as publicans, who made pipes.

  • Pepper pots

    One of these pepper pots is made out of clear glass with a Sheffield plate cap. It has a domed top incised with three half moons. The other pepper pot is made out of blue glass and has a domed silver cap with a narrow rim and pierced holes.

    Although most pepper came from the East, it was also grown in the Americas and regularly figures as a cargo on ships returning to Europe.

    The pepper plant is a woody vine growing to four metres in height. Pepper was first cultivated and used as a spice in India. During the 1700s, as pepper supplies into Europe increased due to the growth of the plantations in the Americas, the price of pepper declined. Pepper, which in the early Middle Ages had been exclusively for the rich, started to become more of an everyday seasoning for all social classes.

  • Mahogany knife box

    This knife box has a hinged sloping lid. On the interior of the lid there is a satinwood star and line inlay. This is a patterned decoration set into the surface of the wood. Inside the box there are shaped openings for knives, forks and spoons. This box is an example of one of the minor pieces of furniture which were being produced by English furniture-makers.

    Mahogany is used to refer to numerous varieties of dark-coloured wood and is often known as Spanish or Cuban mahogany. It has excellent workability, and is very durable and slow to rot.

    Mahogany became the most popular wood for furniture making in the 1700s. It was also used for doors, panelling and other interior details. It was imported from the Americas and the Caribbean, where the cultivation and felling of the wood was heavily dependant upon slave labour.

    Mahogany formed an important part of the triangular trade. During the first stage of this trade, merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. The 'middle passage' took these people from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas to work on the plantations. Mahogany, along with other goods like sugar and tobacco, were then shipped back to Britain.

  • Mahogany knife box

    This knife box has a hinged sloping lid. On the interior of the lid there is a satinwood star and line inlay. This is a patterned decoration set into the surface of the wood. Inside the box there are shaped openings for knives, forks and spoons. This box is an example of one of the minor pieces of furniture which were being produced by English furniture-makers.

    Mahogany is used to refer to numerous varieties of dark-coloured wood and is often known as Spanish or Cuban mahogany. It has excellent workability, and is very durable and slow to rot.

    Mahogany became the most popular wood for furniture making in the 1700s. It was also used for doors, panelling and other interior details. It was imported from the Americas and the Caribbean, where the cultivation and felling of the wood was heavily dependant upon slave labour.

    Mahogany formed an important part of the triangular trade. During the first stage of this trade, merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. The 'middle passage' took these people from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas to work on the plantations. Mahogany, along with other goods like sugar and tobacco, were then shipped back to Britain.

  • Mahogany dressing table

    This gentleman's mahogany dressing table and washstand was more than likely custom-built for a North East family. It is smaller than other examples and is made out of 'Spanish' mahogany. This type of mahogany was used in England from the early 1700s and was obtained from Jamaica, Cuba and San Domingo.

    When the table is opened up, there are holes in which to put glass bottles and a series of fitted compartments. There is also a central mirror which rises on an easel.

    Mahogany formed an important part of the triangular trade. During the first stage of this trade, merchants from Britain sailed to West Africa to sell goods and to buy enslaved Africans. The 'middle passage' took these people from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas to work on the plantations. Mahogany, along with other goods like sugar and tobacco, were then shipped back to Britain.

As women sipped their tea and men drew on their pipes, how many thought of the enslaved plantation workers cutting the sugar cane or picking tobacco leaves?

By the 1700s the demand from European countries for sugar and other exotic goods was the driving force behind the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The products of enslaved labour such as rice, rum, coffee, chocolate, cotton, hard woods, indigo and tobacco were shipped back to British ports including Newcastle upon Tyne. New social rituals connected with smoking and the drinking of tea, coffee and rum emerged in private homes and coffee houses. Elegant new consumer items made by skilled craftsmen, enhanced the enjoyment of produce from the slave plantations.

Take a look

  • This tea pot shows a couple drinking tea served by a young black domestic servant. During the time of the slave trade it was fashionable for wealthy households to have a black servant.

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