Collecting Articles and Features

Shakespearean Pot Lids

Of the approximately 360 known Pot Lid designs a number feature scenes related to the life and works of William Shakespeare. These Shakespearean Pot Lids include locations relevant to Shakespeare’s life: The room in which Shakespeare was born; Anne Hathaway’s house; and Shakespeare’s house on Henley Street in Stratford upon Avon. A couple also relate to Shakespeare plays including Hamlet and As You Like It. The majority are thought to have been produced by F. & R. Pratt at Fenton, Stoke on Trent.

Pot lid The room in which Shakespeare was born 1564 Stratford Upon Avon
Pot Lid The room in which Shakespeare was born 1564 Stratford On Avon

From the 1830s manufacturers would package their wares such as toothpaste to meat paste in small ceramic pots with lids decorated with appealing images in the hopes that this would help them sell more of their product. They must have thought that Shakespeare was a popular theme as a few of the Shakespearean pot lids are some of the most common designs found.

Pot Lid Shakespeares House Henley St Stratford on Avon
Pot Lid Shakespeare’s House Henley St Stratford on Avon

In terms of rarity the most commonly available is
The Room in which Shakespeare was born, 1564, Stratford on Avon then
Shakespeare’s House Henley St Stratford on Avon then
The Residence of Anne Hathaway Shakespeare’s Wife.
These three can normally be found readily available on ebay and auctions from £10-£20 / $15-$30. Bright examples in nice frames may sell for £30 / $45. There are considerable price variations and we have seen some dealers asking over £100/$150.

Pot lid The Residence of Anne Hathaway Shakespeares Wife
Pot lid The Residence of Anne Hathaway Shakespeare’s Wife

One of the rarer pot lids is one that features the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford On Avon. The church is believed to be where William Shakespeare was baptized in 1564. It is also where his funeral was held 52 years later in 1616. The church has a plaque on the wall commemorating his baptism. Parish registers recording baptisms, marriages and burials still exist from Shakespeare’s time although the original building dates back even further, to 1210. For over 800 years then, the Church of the Holy Trinity has been an important part of Stratford life – long before Shakespeare was born and long after he died. Today, it remains an active Anglican church and a place of pilgrimage for Shakespeare fans from all over the world. Bright examples in good condition are estimated at £40-£80 / $60-$100.

Pot lid Church of the Holy Trinity Stratford Upon Avon
Pot Lid Church of the Holy Trinity Stratford On Avon

As with many pot lids variations on the theme are the rarest, most collectible and most valuable. In relation to the Shakespearean pot lids, some are found with an ornate leaf and scroll border. The two featured are Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Shakespeare’s House. The lids show a picture of William Shakespeare to the central top and the words are written in scroll leafs to the bottom of the lid. The design adds a great deal to the look and often the price.

Pratt Ware Pot Lid Shakespeares Birthplace with Leaf and Scroll border
Pratt Ware Pot Lid Shakespeares Birthplace with Leaf and Scroll border. This sold for £84 on ebay, August 2022.
Pratt Ware Pot Lid Shakespeares House with Leaf and Scroll border. This sold for £84 on ebay, August 2022.
Pratt Ware Pot Lid Shakespeare’s House with Leaf and Scroll border. This sold for £84 on ebay, August 2022.

Pot lids featuring scenes from Shakespeare plays can also be found including Hamlet and His Father`s Ghost and a pot lid featuring a number of scenes from As You Like It.

Pot Lid Featuring Ghost Scene From Hamlet
Pot Lid Featuring Ghost Scene From Hamlet, Hamlet and His Father`s Ghost. Estimate £50-£60 / $70-$90

Related
Pot-Lids – one of the earliest forms of visual advertising