Pair of stylish Art Deco spirit decanters with lockable silver mounts and original keys. The decanters were made by Hukin & Heath, silversmiths known for specialising in creating pieces to the designs of Christopher Dresser.
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.
Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) was a designer and design theorist, now widely known as one of the first and most important, independent designers. He was a pivotal figure in the Aesthetic Movement and a major contributor to the allied Anglo-Japanese or Modern English style, both of which originated in England and had long-lasting international influence.