Puzzle Jug

Puzzle jugs provided entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries and were popular in homes and taverns. The earliest known example is the Exeter puzzle jug produced in Saintonge, western France around 1300 and now in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

This puzzle jug, 1738, made of tin glazed earthenware has a verse on its side that reads: ‘Here Gentlemen come try yr skill I’ll hold a wager if you will That you Don’t Drink this Liqr all Without you spill or let some fall’

The jug has an open lattice in the top half that initially looks as if any attempt to pour the contents of the jug will result in disaster. The top edge is rounded and has 3 nozzles around the edge. The holes are the key to how to drink from it without spilling a drop: the drinker sucks strongly from the central nozzle whilst covering the 2 side nozzles with their fingers. The liquid comes out of a hole at the base of the handle inside the jug, drawn up by the sucking action to the top hole, like drinking from a straw.

The base is marked ‘W.W. 1738’.

The jug was probably made in Liverpool. It was part of the Captain John Jones museum collection. John Jones (1798 – 1876) was a successful Liverpool master mariner who collected objects from all around the world, and set up his own museum in Bangor in 1848 located on the High Street, at the bottom of Lon Pobty. In 1870, the museum was given to the City of Bangor and in 1909 it moved to newly built rooms behind the new library in Ffordd Gwynedd. In 1940 the Museum received all that remained of the Bangor City collection.

The jug is on display in the Leisure case in Gallery 4.