M. FORD CREECH ANTIQUES & FINE  ARTS

 

www.mfordcreech.com

 

BUT NOW WE COME A-WASSAILING....

 


 

"We've been a-while a-wandering

Amongst the leaves so green. 

But now we come a-wassailing*

So plainly to be seen. 

For it's Christmas time, when we travel far and near;

May God bless you and send you a happy New Year!"

 


 

  FOR THE TOASTING....

 


 

* WASSAILING is a centuries old English Yuletide tradition, the name from Anglo Saxon Wæs Hal - Wæs meaning 'to be', hal meaning 'hale' or 'whole' From the 9th century, the salutation often accompanied welcoming a guest with a cup of ale or mead, thus becoming a toast : 'I drink to your good health'.

Associated with merry-making and a sense of blessing, the toast eventually became known as wassailing -

the act of toasting someone or something on special occasions with spiced ale or wine. 

The most special of these occasions was the Yuletide season, when most homes made a wassail bowl available throughout the holiday.

Wassail is usually made from ale or hard cider, with varied spices, apples, berries, sugar, brandy and sometime eggs -

heated - and ladled from a large bowl. With what you can't find through you grocer - or if you prefer to toast differently -

perhaps we can assist :

 

 


 

 

 

Among the first needs (beyond the drink) is a large bowl.

The bowl can be of wood, silver, or ceramic - best if it can handle gentle heat from below :

 

Chinese Export Blue & White Center Bowl

Qianlong, c1750-65, probably French Market

10.5" Wide x 3" High - Sold

on a

George III Silver Adjustable Dish Cross with Burner

Charles Aldridge & Henry Greene

London, 1773, 3.1 oz. / 3' High x 12" Long

 


 

 

 

 

Then the ladle -- the large bowls and pouring lips of these ladles enable service to the most delicate of vessels :

 

George III Silver Punch Ladles

George II, William Garrard, London, 1737, 13-3/8" Long - Sold

Early George III Silver Toddy Ladle with Queen Anne Coin, c1760

Rosenthal, Berlin, early 19th century,14-1/4" Long -  Sold

 


 

 

When fruit juices are added, a "lemon (or orange) strainer" over the bowl assists in straining the pulp :

 

George III Silver Lemon (Punch) Strainer

Samuel Meriton II, London, 1780

crested for Molyneux, Earls of Sefton

4.25” Diameter x 9.5” Over Handles / 4.4 oz.

 

 

 


 

 

Handled mugs are the usual choices for wassail - or for any warmed beverage :

 

Large First Period Worcester Mug

"La Promenade Chinoise" / "La Peche" England c1770 - Sold

from designs by Jean Pillement 

Blue Hatched Crescent Mark / 5.5" High

George I Britannia Silver Mug

William Fleming, London, 1716

Of heavy gauge Britannia .958 silver 

7.4 oz. / 3.5" High

Sold

 

First Period Worcester Mug

"Natural Sprays Group"

England c1765-80

Blue Open Crescent Mark

4-7/8" High

 

 

 

Silver is also a superb vessel choice. There is something inexplicable about silver and its festive quality. 

With warm beverages, silver imparts its warming surfaces on a cold night :

 

Pair of George III Silver Beakers

John Lambe, London, 1783

Each crested with a mermaid holding in her dexter hand a dagger proper

(for Broadhurst; Cufack, Ireland; Fennor; Goband; Legget, Scotland;

Murray-Pennyland, Caithness-shire, Scotland)

    3" High / 5.25 oz . Total Weight

 

 

Sold

 


 

 

These goblets are grand in size, with an equally grand story behind the crest and motto :

 

Large Pair of George III Scottish Silver Large Goblets

Alexander Gardner & Co., Edinburgh, 1801

8.25” High / 22.6 oz.

Of large size and heavy gauge silver, engraved with the crest of a Saracen's

head affronte, couped at the shoulders (Fairbairn’s 190/5) below the motto

 “Will God I Shall” (Menzies)

A member of the Menzies family was on Crusade to take the heart of Robert the Bruce to the

Holy Land in penance for a murderous act, when they were ambushed in Spain by Saracens - wherein

Black Douglas cast the heart, being carried in an iron cask about his neck, into the thick of the Saracens,

shouting "Vil God I Zal"  - With (Will) God I Shall. 

The group emerged victorious and Menzies carried the motto.

.

 

Sold

 


 

 

Tumblers are always the "vessel of choice" as the revelry progresses.

Tumblers were introduced in the late 1600's.  They are hammered from 

a centering dot verso, leaving greater weight at the base -

so that they will "right themselves' when knocked over "

 

Early George III Silver Tumbler

William Caldecott, London, 1764

With a rolled-over rim and  gilded interior

2-5/8" Wide x 2.5" High / 2.8 oz.- Sold

Late 17th Century English Tumbler

Unmarked, Initials and Numbered Verso

Possibly Provincial, with broad short form

1-5/8” High x 2-3/4” Diameter / 1.4 oz  - Sold

 

 

The senses of smell, taste, and sight are closely intertwined - they always enhance one another.  Drinking from early glassware is the ultimate experience in toasting -

whether wassail or champagne or Diet Coke.

 

 

George II Baluster Wine Glass

 England, c1740

Bell bowl with weighted base over a beaded

knop and inverted baluster stem

Provenance: The Scrivener Collection,  collectors' labels verso

6.25" High

 

George II Engraved Airtwist Ale Glass

England, c1750 

 The bowl finely engraved with hops and barley raised on a multi-spiral double-knopped airtwist stem and conical foot;

good weight

6-3/8” High

Sold


 

 

George II Engraved Light Baluster Wine

England, c1740-1750

The bowl with leaf and flower engraving over

a triple-knopped stem; high domed foot;

 collector's label verso

 (CJC with numbers)

6-1/8" High

 

 

George I Pedestal (Silesian) Stem Wine

with Folded Foot,

England, c1725

       The conical weighted bowl over a 6-sided pedestal (Silesian) stem with central elongated

tear above a folded foot with snapped pontil

6" High - Sold

 


 

 

Nine Plain Stem Drawn Trumpet Bowl Georgian Wine Glasses

England, c1750-1765

Two with folded feet / Four with stem tears

Priced Individually, but can easily be used as a set

6.5" to 7.25" High

 


 

 

As the drink runs low, a large porcelain handled jar can bring warm replenishment from the kitchen :

 

First Period Worcester Dutch Jug, Pseudo Meissen Crossed Sword Marks

England, c1757

“The Cabbage-Leaf Jug Floral” pattern

pseudo-Meissen crossed sword mark verso

8” High

Sold

 


 

 

In case further "enrichment" is needed, "bottle tickets" assist in the choosing.

In the mid-18th century, silver bottle tickets (or wine and decanter labels) replaced

the hand-written parchment tags on dark glass bottles, decanted in the cellars :

 

"Georgian Silver Bottle Tickets"

 


 

 

These exquisite wine "coolers" will hold any additional bottled beverages you choose -

either at room temperature or chilled :

 

Fine Pair of George III / IV Old Sheffield Plate Wine Coolers

T & J Creswick, c1820

Each bearing a coat of arms within a rubbed in silver rectangle,

 marked beneath the footrim with T&J Creswick crossed arrow mark registered in 1811

 Arms of Peckham Impaling Pauncefote

10-5/8” High x 8-5/8” Wide

 

 

Sold

 


 

.... and for just a bit more spice :

 

 

 George III Silver Nutmeg Grater

Samuel Pemberton, Birmingham, 1800

1.5" Long / .3 oz.

 

Nutmeg has long been a spice of choice for wassail.

Nutmeg has been used since the 1500's. During the Middle Ages, nutmeg was revered for its "magical powers"

and its ability to ward off danger or evil. People carried the nuts with them in their daily life -- even imitations --

thus bringing about the birth of small graters in wood, silver, and ivory - most with a small space for the nut.

Fine silver examples began to appear in England in the late 17th century. 

 


 

Wassailing also grew from another ancient Anglo Saxon custom - that of the winter blessings of orchards by singing, chanting and rhyming to the trees to insure the next year's successful harvest.  There are 17th century references of wassailing fruit trees in Devon and Sussex. At the same time, revelers began taking their bowls to the streets with the festive combination of caroling, begging and merry-making.  Crowds carried a wassail bowl from house to house, singing and offering a drink for a Christmas cake or a coin (a request that no decent man could dare refuse).  Some bowls were decorated with greens, flowers and ribbons.

 

Reveling begins with the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year - culminating on the Twelfth Night, January 5th - Christmas Eve before the 1752 calendar change, and the day before the Feast of the Epiphany in the current Christian Calendar.

 

 

 

"The Wassail Bowl", Sir John Gilbert, 1860

Top : George III Silver-Mounted Lignum Vitae Wassail Bowl, England, c1800, Personal Collection

 


 

Please CLICK the above IMAGES or TITLES for further images and information.

 

Click here for our other Christmas Catalogs :

"...Now Bring Us a Figgy Pudding..."

  "All Out of Darkness We Have Light..."

 

"Wassail! Wassail! All Over the Town"...& for the Fruit Trees

   


 

As usual, please email or call if you have any questions. 

 

For tis Christmas time, and whether far or near,

May God bless you and send you a Happy New Year. 

 

"Wæs Hal!"

 

Millicent Ford Creech

 

901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)

 

581 S. PERKINS ROAD / LAURELWOOD COLLECTION / MEMPHIS, TN 38117

Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

Complimentary Gift Wrapping

 

mfcreech@bellsouth.net  or  mfordcreech@gmail.com

www.mfordcreech.com

 

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But now we come a-wassailing, so plainly to be seen; Christmas