Most commonly occurs as a fine, buff-bodied ware covered by a yellowish lead glaze mottled with dark streaks or speckles, although coarser body fabrics were also produced. Vessels are often tankards or other table wares, but other forms were made as well.
Documentary evidence suggests that this ware was being produced in Staffordshire by the mid-1670s and was made at a number of other potting centers as well in the eighteenth century (Williams 2003:121). Archaeologists originally assigned to Manganese Mottled a manufacture range in Staffordshire of ca. 1680 – 1750, but more recent evidence suggests that it was still being made at least as late as 1780. In Buckley, Wales, the production range was at least 1690 – 1720. The peak of popularity for Manganese Mottled appears to have been during the late 17th century and the early decades of the 18th century (Philpott 1985b:52-53; Elliott 1998:30). This ware has also been known as mottled ware or manganese glazed ware (Williams 2003:121).
At least six different fabrics have been identified for Manganese Mottled ware, but are not described individually here. As a general rule, tankards and other thin-walled vessels tend to have a compact body ranging from very pale brown to yellowish pink to grayish buff. Inclusions on these vessels tend to be rare, but can include small, light or dark particles of clay, grog, or stone. On larger vessels, the fabric can be quite coarse, and can range in color from pinkish buff to pinkish orange or reddish yellow. Unlike the fine wares, laminations of red and yellow clays are sometimes visible in these pieces. Inclusions are also more abundant in the larger vessels, and can include large white stones, red-brown grog, or other light and dark particles (Philpott 1985b:50; McNeil 1989:60).
The glaze is generally a yellowish brown, but it ranges from light olive yellow to very dark red. The fabric color can affect the glaze color, as can the presence of a red or yellow slip or slurry on some vessels. For example, a yellow slip can produce a honey-colored glaze. The glaze tends to be darker in areas where it pools, such as in cordons or the interior bases of hollow vessels. The mottles in the glaze range from dark yellowish red or reddish brown to almost black. The mottles on vertical surfaces, such as tankard walls, tend to be streaked, while those on horizontal surfaces are more often speckled. Both surfaces are generally glazed, although on large vessels the exterior can be unglazed or only partially glazed. A red or yellow slip is sometimes applied to larger vessels, although pottery manufactured at Prescot in Merseyside had a pale yellow slip on the fine wares, not on the coarse vessels (Philpott 1985b:51-56; McNeil 1989:60).
Most Manganese Mottled forms are undecorated. However, drinking vessels commonly have wheel-turned grooves or cordons. These often occur just above the base and/or level with the top of the handle, but they can be found nearly anywhere on the vessel. Royal excise marks, such as AR (Queen Anne), GR (King George I) and WR (King William III), are also found on drinking vessels (Elliott 1998:30; Gooder 1984:173-181; Philpott 1985b:51).
Among the fine wares, tankards are the most common form, along with mugs and cups. At the South Castle Street site in Liverpool, the tankards ranged between 6 cm and 10.5 cm in diameter. Posset pots, puzzle jugs, jars, beakers, and flat dishes have also been found. Coarse wares include large bowls and dishes, chamber pots, skillets, pipkins, and other cooking pots (Gooder 1984:173-181; McNeil 1989:60; Noël Hume 2001:179; Philpott 1985b:50-53;).
Hume 2001; Philpott
1985b; Williams 2003
Trace element analysis of a Manganese Mottled sherd from Liverpool revealed little manganese, and suggested that iron may have been the main coloring agent. The assumption that manganese was used is based on 17thcentury documents, so the term "Manganese Mottled" may be a misnomer (Philpott 1985b:54-55).
Various other terms are used to describe Manganese Mottled ware, including Mottled ware, Staffordshire Mottled ware, and Staffordshire tortoiseshell lead-glazed ware (Philpott 1985b; Noël Hume 2001).
Although commonly associated with Staffordshire, Manganese Mottled wares were also made in Yorkshire, Bristol, and various centers in northwest England, as well as Buckley, Wales. Distinguishing the origin of individual pieces is very difficult (Dawson 1979:206; Philpott 1985:53).