This beautiful pitcher found on the Arabia would have brought some real refinement to the frontier. It was produced in Staffordshire, England by the Thomas, John, and Joseph Mayer ceramic works, which won an award at the London Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. It is made of parian, a type of porcelain that was developed in the 1840s to imitate marble. The characters molded into the surface represent the French novel “Paul and Virginia.” This story takes place on the island of Mauritius, where the two were raised. Virginia is sent to visit an aunt in France and when she returns, her ship sinks just off the coast of the island. The sailors try to convince Virginia to remove her heavy clothing so she can swim to shore, but she refuses out of a deep sense of modesty. Paul helplessly watches the scene from the shore and dies of a broken heart.
The distinctive maker’s mark on the bottom represents the British Royal Coat of Arms, with the unicorn representing Scotland and the lion representing England. Manufacturers who provided goods to the royal family could apply to use the mark on their products as a form of marketing.