1817 - 1834.
Part of a the 1817 act exempting
blacking bottles from taxation.
Most British stoneware bottles manufactured
between 1812 and 1834 were liable for tax. The level of tax was increased in
1817, and at that time blacking bottles were exempted. Between 1817 and the
final abolition of the tax in 1834, excise marks were required to be stamped
into stoneware bottles during manufacture . This can be an extremely useful
Bottles on which the tax had been paid
were required to be marked with an EX, for EXcise (as in picture 1, below).
The only exemptions were for bottles made to hold liquid blacking. These were
required to be marked 'BLACKING BOTTLE (as in picture 2). Both of the bottles
in these pictures can be dated to the period from 1817 to 1834 purely on the
basis of the Excise marks.
1. A small stoneware utility bottle
(about 4 fl. oz. capacity) bearing the EX mark under the potters stamp. On many
bottles of this period the only marks are either an EX, or the words 'Blacking
2. A Blacking bottle clearly stamped with the words BLACKING
BOTTLE in order to be exempt from taxation.
It is often thought that bottles which
DON'T have these marks must be dated either before 1817 or after 1834. This
seems to be a misconception: there are bottles that were definitely made between
these dates which don't bear any excise marks. There is a bottle in Jerry's
collection with the stamp of Burton's Codnor Park Pottery. Burton was at this
pottery only from 1821 to 1832, a period entirely covered by the excise act
of 1817, but this bottle does not have any excise mark. Although most Burtons
bottles have the EX stamp, bottles without it are not particularly rare.
It is possible that the enforcement
of the letter of the law was not always fully carried out, and perhaps on occasion
only a proportion of bottles in each firing were stamped to fulfill the inspection
There are other questions about the
prevalence of the 'EX' and 'Blacking bottle' marks. For example, they are absent
on most (all?) reform flasks, including those that are presumed to date to the
early 1830s (1831 - 32). I have only ever seen one stoneware flask of any kind
with an EX stamp: a plain saltglazed bottle with a J. Bourne stamp.
Both the 1817 act confirming the imposition
of taxation on stoneware bottles but exempting blacking bottles, and the 1834
Act repealing the earlier act, can be viewed in their entirety by clicking on
the links below (originals in Darrens collection):
© J. M. Kemp & D. Gray. 2007
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