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Bottoms Up! Beer and Wine Related Silver

29th November 2023. By Jeffrey Lassaline

The Jewellery, Watches & Silver Sale on 13th January has a particular strength in items associated with wine and beer, a category that has always inspired the creativity of silver and goldsmiths who have, for centuries, created a huge range of items to allow for the practical and elegant consumption of alcohol.

Topping the list of wine-related silver, in terms of size and value, would certainly be the wine cistern. One of the most notable examples was made for Thomas Wentworth, 3rd Baron Raby as Ambassador Extraordinary to Berlin in the early 18th century. It was sold at auction in London in 2010 and destined to be exported out of the United Kingdom, luckily the Export Reviewing Committee declined to allow the export and instead the cistern was purchased on behalf of the nation and can now be seen at Temple Newsam in Leeds.

Whilst cisterns are designed to hold multiple bottles of wine, the sale features a pair of rather more practical wine coolers, which are used to hold a single bottle each. The wine coolers were made in silver plate by Elkington in 1869 and were presented to the Officers Mess of the 7th Royal Lancashire Militia, one given by Lieutenant W. E. H. Steeds and the other by Captain H. Crump. The Royal Lancashire Militia was first raised just before the Crimean War and later incorporated into the Lancashire Fusiliers. They have an estimate of £500-700 for the pair (all figures exclude buyer’s premium).


A Pair of Victorian Silver Plate Ice Buckets or Wine Coolers, by Elkington and Co., Birmingham, Probably 1869


Also from the Fusiliers is an oversized claret-jug and two goblets. Coincidentally they are also marked for Elkington, though are solid silver and marked for Birmingham, 1880. Weighing almost 100 troy ounces they are offered with an estimate of £2,000-3,000.


An Oversized Victorian Silver Claret-Jug and a Pair of Goblets, by Frederick Elkington, Birmingham, 1880


An earlier item, made in the 18th century, is a fascinating double beaker which was made by Charles Aldridge and Henry Green in London and hallmarked for 1768. This type of object can trace its origins back to Germany in the 17th century, though were not widely made in the United Kingdom with the exception of a short period in the 1760s and 1770s when a number of examples were made, mostly by Aldridge and Green. Formed as two reeded beakers that fit together, the example which is to be offered in January comes from a private collection and is to be sold with an estimate of £1,200-1,800.


A George III Silver Double Beaker, by Charles Aldridge and Henry Green, London, 1768


Another rare survival in the sale is an Irish wine funnel and stand. Marked for William Thompson of Dublin and hallmarked for 1796. This is unusual not only for being Irish but also for being of oval section, as opposed to being of the much more conventional circular form. It is engraved with the badge of the Caithness Legion who were founded by Sir Benjamin Dunbar in 1794. While originating in Caithness, the legion was sent to Ireland where they remained until 1802 and presumably they commissioned the present funnel while there. Likely to appeal to collectors it is offered at an estimate of £300-500.


A George III Irish Silver Wine Funnel and Stand, by William Thompson, Dublin, 1796


The most numerous type of object in the sale are silver goblets from a collection, most of which were given as various agricultural prizes and some of which are charmingly engraved with farm animals. They range in date from 1795 through to 1899 and were presented for everything from ‘3 best fat pigs’ to ‘3rd best 200 bushels of barley’. They carry estimates which range from £100 up to £500.


Part of the Collection of Goblets


While the majority of the items mentioned thus far are of English or Irish manufacture there are two Louis XV French Provincial silver wine-tasters or tasse à vin also included in the sale. One is marked for Germain Dezeustre, dit Durand, in collaboration with Benoit Julien, in Trévoux, Juridiction de Lyon, dating to before 1760 (estimate: £250-350). Germain Dezeutre seems to have specialised in making wine-tasters such as the present example, often in collaboration with other silversmiths and typically engraved with the name of its owner. Indeed, a number of examples are recorded by M. Chalabi, M.-R. Jazé-Charvolin, et al. in the exhibition catalogue L'orfèvrerie de Lyon et de Trévoux de XVe au XXe siècle, Paris, 2000, p. 127 and p. 261, fig. 100. The second example is by Jean Beamont, Château-Gontier, Juridiction d'Angers, 1747-1752 (estimate: £200-300). Each is typically formed as a shallow dish and with a cast serpent handle, the first being raised on a short milled foot.


A Louis XV French Provincial Silver Wine Taster, by Germain Dezeustre, dit Durand, in Collaboration with Benoit Juline, Trévoux, Juridiction de Lyon, Before 1760


A Louis XV French Provincial Silver Wine Taster, by Jean Beamont, Château-Gontier, Angers Juridiction d’Angers, 1747-1752


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