This category includes earthenware and stoneware flasks. Most flasks were made to hold spirits but some of the ‘ring’ (or ‘hole’) flasks and other highly figural flasks may have been simply ornamental. Other boot shaped flasks may have in fact been Victorian boot or shoe warmers, these being filled with hot water and then placed inside footwear prior to wearing.
Many spirits, such as ‘Old Tom’, which was a well known brand of cheap gin, were decanted straight from the barrel to refill customer’s personal flasks.
Salt-glazed stoneware flasks have long been eagerly sought after by collectors, particularly those that commemorate people, places and events.
Earthenware flasks are in many cases much rarer than their stoneware cousins as they appear to have been made in far fewer numbers, as well as being more easily damaged.
Many flask makers produced both salt-glazed and earthenware flasks, sometimes from the same moulds. Many apparently similar flasks will be found on closer inspection to have slight differences in the moulding (see image above), which suggests they were made by many different potteries.