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pewter-cup

My husband, Keith, recalls:

As a child I can remember that these mugs were my absolute favorite to drink from. I was often helping my grandmother Elizabeth Bullard with landscaping and minor house repairs. It was always a treat to escape the heat of the Oklahoma summer by having a mug of freshly brewed iced tea. The pewter would be cold to the lips and the outside quickly became dripping with condensation. I would wipe the mug across my forehead in order to cool off a bit.

When my mother was young and living at home her brother Robert and their cousin Charles Peters were responsible for milking a Guernsey cow, one would milk in the morning and one in the evening. The milk would be brought into the house in a clean milk bucket. My mother would often wait until the cream had risen to the top of the bucket and skim some of that off into one of these pewter mugs. She would then add some sugar to the cream and then place a hand powered crank mixer into the mug. She would mix the cream and sugar with the mixer until the cream would become whipped cream like you would use for topping a pie. She would then eat the fresh whipped cream. Mom relates that the milk and cream from a Guernsey cow was of the very best quality. The cream would have a very sweet taste even without the addition of the sugar.

This pewter mug is one of the family curios in our cabinet. It stands about 4¾” tall, measures 3¼” across the top and 3⅞” across the bottom. Engraved around the side of the mug is a dragon.  There is a full handle attached at both the top and bottom of the mug.  Stamped on the bottom of the mug in a circular form are the words “Kuthing” and “Swatow”.  Across the circle formed by these words is the word “Pewter”.  Research indicates the manufacturer was Kut Hing and they were located in the town of Swatow in China.

This is one of three mugs sent back from China by my mother’s father, Elvin Bullard, while he was in the merchant marines in the 1940’s. My uncle Robert Bullard has the other mug and the location of the third mug is unknown.

The dragon depicted on this mug is an Earth Dragon (Ti-Lung) and it rules all of the earth’s waters and rivers.  All of these dragons have the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, fiery eyes and a long beard. Its ears are like those of a cow, its paws like the tiger’s and its claws sharp like an eagle’s and it has 4 legs and 4 claws on each paw. Its neck is serpentine; it has the belly of a frog and has nine times nine (the extreme of a lucky number) scales of a carp. On each side of the dragons mouth are whiskers, under its chin or floating just out of reach is a bright pearl.   The earth dragon is a a symbol of happiness and good luck, an all around good dragon.

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