A large, stoneware jug in the collection of the Bennington Museum bears poignant witness to the temperance movement and contradictions inherent in Americans' attitudes towards the consumption of alcohol during the mid-nineteenth century. Made in 1859 by the Norton Stoneware Factory in Bennington, Vermont, the jug is an impressive 12 gallons in size and bears a prominent cobalt decoration depicting a compote of fruit resting on a base composed of two intertwined snakes. Above this decoration, on the jug's shoulder is a clay roundel inscribed: LUMAN P. NORTON/ 12 gals/1859/ IN VINO VERITAS. In addition to the date of manufacture and capacity, this mark notes who the jug was made for, a member of the family who owned the stoneware factory, and an interesting Latin phrase that can be translated, ““in wine [there is] truth.”” The combination of this phrase, the motif of the intertwined snakes, and Luman Preston Norton's role on Vermont's temperance movement are examined to provide a window into the conflicted attitudes about alcoholic consumption that existed in mid-nineteenth-century America and the way many tried to find a balance.
- alcohol consumption
- in vino veritas
- Luman P. Norton
- Bennington, Vermont
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