Johnson jug

The Museum of London acquires a penis-shaped cup for its collection of 18th century pornographic objects.

Published February 20, 2001 8:22PM (EST)

England is responsible for introducing the world to spotted dick, a shredded-suet pudding of dubious nutritional value. Last week the Museum of London unveiled another dick-related item, a 300-year-old drinking cup shaped like a penis.

The distinctive "drinking penis" was discovered recently by archaeologists during excavation in a London cesspit, according to a Reuters report. Field archaeologist Ruth Panes admitted she received "a bit of a shock" when she came upon the cup and then burst into laughter when she noticed the artifact's obviously phallic nature. Her shock may have been compounded by the fact that the tin-glazed earthenware object measures approximately six-and-a-half inches long -- about the size of an average erect penis.

Quick-thinking minds whisked the johnson jug to the Museum of London, which cleverly put the item on display on Valentine's Day, for art lovers of all nations to admire. Once museumgoers have had their fill of the drinking penis, it will join a collection of 18th century pornographic tiles.

"A small cup above the testicles suggests that the vessel was used to contain liquid, possibly wine, beer or ale," reads a sober statement by the museum. "Phallic objects were common in the Roman and Medieval periods but this is the only known tin-glazed example of early modern date."

Museum officials did not speculate about why the cup may have been crafted or what sort of penis-themed rituals may have been enacted. Perhaps soldiers guzzled ale from the dick after a long day of battle. It may have been used as an adjunct to wedding ceremonies. Or the penis could have been suckled by members of British royalty. (It surely wouldn't be the first time the trembling lips of the nation's leaders had been acquainted with fellatio.)

Art connoisseurs will undoubtedly take heart in the fact that, according to the museum, the phallus receptacle is "rendered with exact anatomical precision."

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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