Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Owning things is part of what makes us human. Collecting is a branch of ownership where we can express ourselves and define our interests. As a historian I have made a small collection of objects that have stories to tell about the way we lived in the past. Scroll down and find something that interests you.
The Bottle Slide
Better known as a coaster.
“Beer is made by men, wine by God" - Martin Luther
In the late 18th century wine was a popular drink with the upper and aspiring middle classes. There was an etiquette in serving and drinking wine (more about this will be coming in a future blog).
After dinner the gentlemen and ladies would split up - the ladies going to the drawing room and the men often remaining in the dining room to drink and smoke. Servants would remove the linen tablecloth and the polished hardwood table top would be the surface upon which bottles of wine would be passed from man to man.
The wine bottles of this era were made of dark, coarse glass and the bases would be roughly finished. The bottle slide, with a wooden base covered in woollen felt or baize would hold the bottle as it was pushed across the table, without scratching the valuable table top. There are concentric rings cut into the upper surface of the wooden slide which perfom a vital role.
A wet bottle with an indented base could forma vacuum between the bottle and the slide. As the bottle was lifted the stand could stick to it for a second and then fall down onto the table, damaging it. The rings created an air gap that stopped this happening - ingenious (and decorative too).
As the popularity of putting wine into decanters grew larger diameter slides were made to fit the wider decanter bases. By the 1820s this culminated in the decanter wagon which could be wheeled across the table and provide a choice of two wines.
The bottle slide I've featured dates from 1790 and is made from OLD SHEFFIELD PLATE (copper covered with fused silver) and mahogany. It is in regular use in my house and makes a decorative addition to my dinner table and still performs the original job of not scratching the table.
If you are interested in adding one of these to your home get in touch and I'll send you some free advice on what to look for and how much to expect to pay.