Drinking Vessels

A brief discussion of contemporary names for drinking vessels

Roy Palmer, in his book A Taste of Ale, quotes the following from Thomas Heywood 's (?1574-1641) pamphlet Philocothonista, or The Drunkard, Opened, Dissected, and Anatomized (1635):

Next for the variety of drinking cups, …; divers and sundry sorts we have , some of Elme, some of Box, some of Maple, some of Holly, &c.  Mazers, broad-mouth'd dishes, Noggins, Whiskins, Piggins, Cruses, Ale-bowles, Wassell-bowles, Court-dishes, Tankards, Kannes from a Pottle to a Pint, from a Pint to a Gill: other Bottles wee have of Leather, but they are most used among the Shepheards, and harvest people of the Countrey; small Jacks wee have in many Ale-houses of the Citie, and the Suburbs, tipt with silver, beside the great black Jacks, and bombards of the Court, when the French-men first saw, they reported at their returne into their Countrey, that the English-men used to drink out of their Bootes.

Palmer offers the following elucidations in his notes:

  • Mazers: bowls of hard wood
  • Noggins: small vessels
  • Whiskins: shallow vessels
  • Piggins: wooden staved vessels, with one stave longer than the rest to serve as a handle
  • Cruses: small drinking vessels
  • Pottle: two quarts
  • Jacks: drinking vessels made of leather and coated outside with pitch or tar
  • Bombards: large jacks

I note that the Bible mentions cruses as a measure of expensive oil, thus reinforcing the interpretation as a small measure.

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