An unusual mahogany tantalus with green bottles
The tantalus was a device for keeping servants away from strong liquor and typically had three decanters of square section (the usual patttern for spirit decanters) in an oak frame mounted with silver plated (or very rarely silver) mounts. There was a moving element which had a key to open it to access the decanters once it had been unlocked. It seems to have been developed late in the 19th century and remained popular for 50 years or so.
This tantalus is very different being made of mahogany and has no metal mounts a fact which in itself makes this unusual. The edges of the mahogany are reeded and it has a loop handle for portability. There is a 'bar' which hinges upwards when unlocked to release the decanters.
The decanters are unusual for a tantalus also. They are mould-blown in olive-green glass and are of tall cylindrical form with narrow necks. There are vertical 'ribs' running the height of the decanters. Each decanter is stoppered with a base-metal-mounted cork which would have originally been electoplated with silver. It would be an easy matter to re-plate these mounts.
Because this is such an unusual piece, it has to be considered if it was not an very early prototype made before the standard patterns, with which many of us are familiar, had evolved. This of itself raises a problem for people like me, because pricing is difficult! I could price this very considerably higher - put a '1' in front of the '7' and it might still be a bargain despite one of the decanters having been replaced. In any event, at this price, it shows me a reasonable margin and I hope an established customer will want it!
Date: c.1870 -1890
Dimensions: 16.2", 41.2 cm. high, 12", 30.5 cm. wide.