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Oak & silver-plated tantalus

£ 785

Silversmith
Place

England

Year

c1880

This classic Victorian decanter frame has three cut-glass bottles. The wooden frame has silver plated mounts and a locking mechanism to keep the drink safe. To open, unlock and then push down on the lever beneath the lock to allow the swing top to roll over, allowing removal of the decanters.

The concept of lockable decanters where the contents could be viewed but not opened or poured unless the case was opened by a key and was named after the Greek mythological mortal, Tantalus. Legend has it that Tantalus stole ambrosia and nectar from the gods and was punished for his lack of self-control by being made to stand in a lake with low hanging fruit trees above him. Whenever he tried to grab the fruit the branches would lift beyond his reach and when he bent to drink the water the lake would recede from him. This punishment of temptation is where the word tantalise comes from and the tantalus is often believed to have been designed to prevent household staff from stealing or sampling the decanter's contents.

Height
290mm (11 1/2")
Length
365mm (14 1/4")
Depth
140mm (5 1/2")
Reference
6456
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