Miniature pottery cradles were a popular form of wedding gift throughout the UK during the late 17th to mid-19th century. The not-too-subtle message to the newlyweds was to encourage fertility. This humble example, measuring 3″ high by 3-3/4″ long, is made from yellow glazed pottery and decorated with an incised circle pattern. It was made in Staffordshire, England, in the early 1800s. Perhaps after the young couple took the hint of the cradle’s implied message and had a child, the little darling grew up and one day broke the cradle. But one can’t blame the child who simply thought the cradle was a toy to be played with and not a symbol of its own mere existence. Distraught over their broken gift, the couple took the two halves to a china mender who repaired the cradle using two 3/4″ metal staples. Although the cradle is back in one piece and suitable for displaying, the obtrusive scars bear witness to the unfortunate event.
This grouping has similar cradles with molded babies in swaddling, rarer than my empty one.
Photo courtesy of John Howard