At first glance there’s nothing very exciting at all about this Prattware pot lid.
Printed in green and bronze with a portrait of a young Victoria,
it carries the inscription Cherry Toothpaste Patronised by The
Queen For Beautifying and Preserving the Teeth & Gums, Prepared
by John Gosnell & Co Ltd, London.
The product was among the most successful of the age and if this
lid were a standard 3in (7.5cm) diameter it would command perhaps
£30. In fact this particular lid measures a massive 19in (47cm)
across - the size of an average car tyre.
Extraordinary 'magnum' size products were seemingly a speciality
for the publicity-minded Mr Gosnell. An original advert surviving
from the mid 19th century shows the manufacturer's exhibition stand
and the availability of 'magnum bottles', 'magnum packets' and
'magnum pots' of Gosnell products. Magnum pots of Cherry Toothpaste
- each promotional jar containing 300 standard-sized pots - were
priced at £20 each.
Only two of these super-sized lids are known. The first recorded
example of this lid was found on the site of the original Pratt
factory in Fenton, dug up during roadside works in the late
That cracked but intact lid - the provenance seems to confirm the
attribution to F&R Pratt - belongs to auctioneer-collector Alan
Blakeman and survives in his bottle museum at the BBR Heritage
Centre of Elsecar, North Yorkshire.
This example, offered for sale by BBR (12% buyer's premium) had
surfaced more recently, apparently discarded from storage by a
college and rescued from a skip by a lecturer. It had a couple of
chips to the top edge and a hairline to the flange. Mr Blakeman had
hoped to attract interest from outside the immediate collecting
community for an object with such impact and decorative qualities -
he suggested the addition of a piece of reinforced glass would
create a fine coffee table.
But ultimately the one seriously interested party at the
£3000-4000 estimate was the Robert Opie Collection of British
nostalgia and advertising memorabilia, currently housed at Opie's
Museum of Memories at The Wigan Pier Experience. On July 3, it was
added to the collection of over 500,000 items at a bargain
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