Butler's Antiques

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6572 A rare set of "Bristol Blue" decanters in Sheffield plated frame


Code: 6572

This is an exceptional set of four decanters.  Of good 'Bristol Blue' glass, they are delicately gilded with faux labels for Brandy, Rum, Gin and Whiskey and they rest in a Sheffield-plated frame which bears the mark of Matthew Boulton.

Typically for spirit decanters, they hold a half-bottle each and are of 'Indian club' shape and fitted with bevelled inverted pear-shape stoppers.  The labels are of navette outline comprising a series of interlocking circles within two plain lines and with running foliate decoration above and below.  The four names are enclosed wihtin these cartouches.  The stoppers have the initials B, R, G, and W.

An interesting aspect of these decanters and the spirits they were designed to contain, is the inclusion of 'Gin' and 'Whiskey'.  In the late 18th century, both these spirits were considered to be 'inferior'.  For example no English Whisky (or Whiskey) silver 'wine' labels are known before about 1820 and Gin had a notorious association with street life in poor areas.  However, the same did not apply in Ireland.  It therefore seems most likely that these were made in England (probably in the West Midlands) for a specific order from an Irishman, or for sale in Dublin.

The frame is silver plated and the mark of Matthew Boulton is lightly stamped twice it being a sun "in full splendour".  The frame has appertures for the four bottles and a foliate carrying handle and rests on a shaped square base with gadrooned moulded edge and foliate feet at each corner.

A major figure in the "Industrial Revolution", Matthew Boulton was the leading manufacturer and the principal pioneer of mass production techniques.  In addition he was a friend of numerous other pioneers of the age of enlightenment - the arts, sciences and manufacturing.  His Soho factory in Birmingham, was a major visitor attraction in its day.