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Help ID Original Use for old earthenware Jar (Robinson-Ransbottom)

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Help satisfy my curiosity - This earthenware jug was my Great-Grandfathers. It was taken from the "wine room" in the cellar of his house before it was sold late last year. It was unused since he passed, well before my own time, but carefully had the lid taped on and surprisingly clean for a half century in the cellar. The basement operations were long abandoned by my childhood (my grandparents, "greatest generation", did not engage in the "old ways" . But wine was definitely not the only thing made down there back in the depression era - there is a same brand pickle jar or fermentation crock that was taken as well as racks of mason jars that were left behind etc. Looking on line I can find that this jar was made by Robinson-Ransbottom and seems a fairly common maker - the #3 in the crown I assume means 3 gallons (seems about right) but I cannot find reference to its intended original use - the "pickle jar" or fermentation crock is straight sided and lidless, It is not a wine jug because the lid is earthenware and loose. What was this used for - was it a generic shape crock for multi purpose or did it have a likely use in a early 20th centry Italian-American household.

also open to uses beyond decorative/sentimental as it looks really cool in my "dining room" but in my tiny house storage is precious.

 
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  1. How tall is it?

    1. sorry about 13" tall by 9" wide. not huge but big for a cookie jar!

      2 Replies
      1. re: JTPhilly

        I agree that 13" exceeds the optimal cookie reach distance. 8.5" is ideal, don't you agree? :-D

        The loose lid is a big clue that whatever was stored in it wasn't likely to go rancid, wasn't liquid, and wasn't that valuable. I'm thinking something like flour, an everyday shelf-stable item. So not helpful, I'm afraid. But not a cookie jar!

        1. re: DuffyH

          very big cookies LOL!

      2. I can't help you but am also interested in knowing because we have several of these. One has the same two-tone coloring, the rest are solid brown. All have lids.

        1. Hi, JT:

          It's a crock made in Roseville Ohio. The company was founded in 1900 and went under in 2005. See,http://www.ohiopottery.info/robinson-...

          I all likelihood, it is a all-purpose storage crock. Can you post photos of the lid and rim?

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1 Reply
          1. re: kaleokahu

            I will when I get home

            I hate how all stories about us and uk potteries end with fairly recent closings - everything MIC these days which is why I hold on to the old stuff - this was going to just be left in the house :(

          2. I think something like that could have many uses. It could be used for pickles, curing olives, making wild cherry bounce -anything that has smaller size. A narrower neck will help keep things submerged in whatever liquid you are using. I have a crock a similar shape but smaller with an ear of corn painted on the side. It is missing its lid. The family story was that they used it for canning. Kind of scary if that was true.

            7 Replies
            1. re: wekick

              i did not think about how the neck would help keep things submerged - I wonder if they cured peppers in it? they had a fairly extensive garden that was maintained by my great aunt and uncle for a long time. I am sure they would be horrified that their great grandson had taken an old crock from the cellar and put it on display in his dining room LOL but I think it is very handsome. I just need to figure out what to put in it ;)

              1. re: JTPhilly

                It looks brand-new. This is as much a testament to the family who kept it that way as the crock itself.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Here is the lid - there is an unfortunate chip, the inside is glazed brown like the top

                  the opening is about 5" W

                  indeed Kaleo these were careful people - I know that this crock - indeed the wine room and most of the basement was not used in my lifetime - and likely a decade before that so nearing a half-century now at least.

                  I know it is a common item - a tupperware of its day I am just curious of its use - unfortunately they cleaned things well LOL I cannot fine any residue or smell inside - if anything vaguely sweet.

                  I don't know why I am fascinated by this crock I guess I am very intrigued by how this generation lived, The abandoned "wine room" always fascinated me and now I have this piece of it to remember. I almost did not take it because of the small chip in the lid but I am glad I did - it looks great in my space and jogs a memory of a lost place

                   
                   
                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    Hmm. Does the lid sit on the top rim, or does the lid slip down inside the jar?

                    I keep circling back to sauerkraut, but not if the lid doesn't go down inside.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      the lis sits on the lower ring visible in the second photo it maybe 3/4" deep from the top rim

                      I probably could make sauerkraut in it but that was definitely not on the menu... perhaps peperoncini or some sort of hooch?

                      I would guess it was used to make something italian that was not readily available - hot peppers were always a favorite in the family perhaps that

                      I like to attach stories to things - the peril of being a sentimental person LOL

                      1. re: JTPhilly

                        We're alike in that aspect -- things are just things -- things with stories are treasured heirlooms (no matter the value).

                        the fact that the lid sits below the rim of the lid points me toward some sort of fermentation...but what kind is anyone's guess.

                        1. re: JTPhilly

                          The lid fitting on a recessed lip makes me think "fermenting crock", but I suppose it could have been used for storing dry ingredients. BTW, there is indeed Italian crauti which is much like German Sauerkraut.

              2. so would it be weird to ferment gardiniera on a bookcase next to the record player?

                3 Replies
                1. re: JTPhilly

                  not in theory, but you might find that there's just something in the air ...

                  ETA: a healthy fermentation doesn't smell bad, but I'm not sure I'd want my living room infused with that particular aroma.

                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    Hi, JTP:

                    Yes, it'd be a little strange. You need to fashion a "wine room" of your own for wine- and cheesemaking, and pickling. My family would have called it a "stillroom" or a root cellar, but the idea is dark and cool.

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      and, along with that, a small room would carry within it's confines more availability to natural yeasts floating about in the ethers...

                  2. Since they had a garden they most likely used this for fermenting pickles.

                    1. So I've seen quite a few crocks of that shape which are used as butter churns. But of course, the lid would have been wooden with a hole in it for the churny plunger. Here's a link to a similar jar only with "ears" for handles.
                      http://www.etsy.com/listing/83445192/...

                      1. Crocks this size make a good container for largish arrangements; if you're at all concerned about leaking through an undiscovered hairline crack, you can use a plastic container inside it.

                        1. Hi JT, I found a picture of your crock at the top link. It's the EBay site. It's much smaller than yours. It's simply called "Antique Pottery Crock Lidded Jar Stoneware Glazed Brown Tan" 3 3/4" tall. But, if you Google "antique fermenting croaks" you will see that these crocks did indeed ferment cabbage. Your crock is missing the stone weights. Two half moons which when put on top of the ferment forms a hole through water is poured. They also hold the ferment submerged. The second link shows what I mean. Mine has an 18 in the crown, and that indeed states the gallon measurement.

                          I'm interested in these because when we moved into the we live in, 46 years ago we found a huge brown and cream colored crock with the same crown marking you have on yours. Mine has straight sides however, with no lid. We found it on the third floor inside a small doored hide-away for lack of a better word. Originally it held a darkish liquid. Because there was no lid we didn't dare even think of sampling that. The story we gave it was that the man who formerly owned the house was hiding home brew from his wife. Although she could have known all along.

                          Mine sits on the floor. I've set large potted plants in it which was very effective. It has held wood for the wood stove, magazines, and yarn. I used as a decorative piece. I have several other crocks that I purchased in antique shops and Vermont flea markets, but this is the largest.

                          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Potte...

                          http://www.threetastes.com/blog/files...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Gio

                            Thanks Geo - interesting if it had weights they were probably still down there I just would not have known - Also we have a straight sided one as you describe - this one everyone called the "pickle" jar.

                            All this canning and pickling and wine making was completely abandoned even by my grandfather and his sister who remained in the house, they did keep the garden though - now doing these things seems to be regaining popularity.

                            1. re: JTPhilly

                              You're welcome. Yes, canning and "putting up the harvest" is very popular now. Especially fermenting various vegetables in the lacto-fermantion manner. Very probiotic and thought to be good for us.

                              ETA: Thanks for not mentioning my many typos and omissions. I a terrible typist. LOL

                          2. I'd say it was used for fermenting pickles/sauerkraut. There would have been a loose lid to place on top of the veg to press them down into the liquid.

                            Never saw anything like it used for wine in my Italian American household. Vino went straight from barrel to bottle.

                            1. Since you know the maker's name, you might look on-line to see if there's a collector's market for the pottery. Collectors could tell you what its intended use was.

                              My family now lives in California. One of my brother's friends collects Redwing pottery from Redwing Minnesota where my grandmother grew up. He knows more about the pieces I got from grandma that I ever did. Apparently there are yearly conventions.

                              It's worth checking into.