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J Sainsbury's Paste Pot


We have bought a collection of Edwardian ironstone pots branded "J Sainsbury's Freshly Made Bloater Paste". These pots are tangible treasures from the wonderful age of food hall counter service: wall to floor tiling and mosaic; the sound of greaseproof paper parcels being wrapped; and the air, filled with smoked bacon and cheese. That was how Sainsbury's started (see interior image of the Hastings store), yet now all that's left are their pots from this beautiful past. Re-found and restored back to their gleaming best, they now make the perfect home for sea salt, butter or a paté - and, if you want to be a tad authentic, fill the little pot with your own fish paste of pounded salted anchovies and butter.


Sainsbury's was established 1869, when John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann opened a shop at 173 Drury Lane in Holborn, London. By the mid 1880s the food store was making their own foods and own-brand products, such as bloater paste, a spread made from mashed cold-smoked whole herring, which was dispensed in ironstone jars, such as this one. This was the era of edible pastes: potted meats and shrimps; bloater and anchovy pastes. The lettering and graphics applied to these paste pots now provide stunning examples of Victorian utilitarianism and a glimpse into nineteenth century daily life, needs and aspirations.

Our bloater paste pots were recently unearthed from a Victorian waste tip in Lancashire, and have spent over a century below ground. This explains their condition - and the beauty a century of mud, rust and rain can bring. Originally when sold, paste pots would have been cream-white in colour, yet now their glaze has become beautifully marbled with a fine web of crazing. 

Year of manufacture: c.1900

Origin: England, UK

Material: ceramic ironstone

Diameter 6.5cm Height 4cm

Condition: some patches of heavy crazing and slight discolouration to glaze, yet this makes the pots unique and defines their beauty. Your pot may be slightly different in colour and crazing to the one pictured.

What do we mean by vintage ironstone and creamware?

Is this a gift?

Our very handsome gift box (see image) will turn your generosity into something extra-special. To add to your order click here, and your gift will arrive beautifully wrapped and parcelled with our hallmark oval blue sticker.  We can also add a name tag and any message you would like included.