Very good late Victorian oak tantalus frame with neo-gothic silver plated mounts. This classic tantalus has a fully working traditional lock and key. It is fitted with three large cut crystal bottles and stoppers each of which is in exceptionally good order and shows little or no sign of wear.
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.