A puzzle jug is a practical joke in the form of a drinking vessel that, unless the trick
is known, spills all over the user when he tries to take a sip. As the jug
is tilted, liquid pours out from the pierced decoration surrounding the
pot. The puzzle is to learn the secret of how to successfully drink without
getting wet. Puzzle jugs have been manufactured in Germany, Holland, France,
and several other European countries since the end of the 13th century.
The Exeter Puzzle Jug, on display in the Royal Albert Museum in Exeter,
Devon, was probably made in the Saintonge region of western France, around
1300, and is one of the finest examples of medieval pottery imported to
England. Puzzle jugs came back into vogue in the 18th and 19th centuries
and are still manufactured by ceramicists in France, Germany and Britain.
And the secret? That is really quite open, and can be handled by anyone
prepared to get to the bottom of it.