Wednesday 30 July 2014

Vinaigrette - A Different Kind of Dressing

During the days when sanitation and hygiene were not really top priority it became necessary to do what you could to combat the offensive odours which were ever present. Thus, the vinaigrette was born, and found to fit the bill perfectly.
The intricate interior of a Victorian vinaigrette. Click here to view on our website.
The finely engraved exterior.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Claret Jug

Well, Sunday was a big day for Rory McIlroy. The 25 year old won the British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Course. 
McIlroy proudly holding the winners' trophy, the famed Claret Jug. Image via.
With an early seven stroke advantage, the lead came down to only two strokes, with five holes still left to play. In the end, it was McIlroy who lifted the Claret Jug and he is now, hopefully, on his way to winning The Grand Slam. If he can achieve this he will be the second youngest ever winner of the Grand Slam, following only Tiger Woods who achieved this at 24. So, bring on The Masters and fingers crossed for Rory.

The trophy lifted by Rory McIlroy, is known as the Claret Jug, as that is exactly what it is. A silver jug mounted on a silver pedestal. When one thinks of a claret jug, one might tend to first think of a glass jug with a silver mount. However the all silver wine ewer was simply another type of claret jug reflecting the fashion of the time.
The Claret Jug, atop its impressive mount. Image via.
The Claret Jug trophy has been awarded to the winner of the Open since 1873. Previously the winner had been presented with a Challenge Belt. When "Young Tom Morris" took the title for a third consecutive time in 1870 he was given the belt to keep. A new trophy was needed for future championships.

Due to no new trophy being chosen, there was no British Open played in 1871. The British Open went ahead in 1872 but a new trophy was still yet to be chosen. The Open was won by Tom Morris again that year, but his name wasn't added to the trophy until 1873 when the new cup was finally ready.The new trophy was made by Mackay and Cunningham of Edinburgh and hallmarked in 1873.

So, in 1873 the new trophy was awarded for the first time, to Tom Kidd. The trophy that is awarded now is a copy of the original and is presented to the winner, who gets to keep it for the year before passing it on to the next champion.
Winners' names, hand engraved into the silver band. Image via.
The Claret Jug has seen a lot of the world since its making. Each champion becomes warden of the cup for the following year and therefore it travels the globe with the winner. It has been known to attend functions, visit the pub, be present at family barbecues, and has taken many a ride in the back of various taxis throughout the world. More than one winner has been known to keep it in the bedroom so that waking up next to it is a reminder that they really did win the British Open. A nice thing to wake up to, I should think.

Since 1927, the original Claret Jug resides permanently at the R&A club in St. Andrews, along with Tom Morris’ Challenge Belt, which the Morris family bequeathed to the R&A in 1908. The current jug was first awarded in 1928 and is presented to the winner annually. After the year is up the winner receives a replica which they can keep permanently.

It is tradition for the winner of the claret jug to drink from it. Over the years it has had many different drinks poured into it from beer to Guinness and, one should think, even the odd drop of claret. Apparently, Padraig Harrington's son even stashed his ladybugs in it.

Rory has been spotted filling his newly acquired prize with Jagermeister. This licorice liqueur, favoured by the serious party goers of today is usually served up as a ‘Jager Bomb’ . It may find itself now being seen as a drink of champions.
So where will this famous jug be spotted this year? Well, for 365 days that is up to Rory to decide. Wherever that may be, I hope he enjoys it. He deserves it.
This image of McIlroy's friend filling the famous jug with 'party spirit' recently went viral. Image via.
We have a great selection of wine ewers and claret jugs here at I. Franks. Click here to view a selection of antique ewers on our website.

Interesting links (excuse the pun):

Friday 18 July 2014

Swan Upping

One of a pair of Victorian sterling silver swans. Click here to view on our website.
Should you find yourself swanning about along the River Thames this week and spot any traditional rowing skiffs festooned with flags and pennants; you may have stumbled across a royal event. If the boatmen are wearing a distinctive scarlet uniform, then you have happened upon the Swan Uppers.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Hampton Court

One of the loveliest things that this season brings is the colourful blooms and sweet fragrance of summer flowers.
It is now the time of year for The Hampton Court Flower Show and time for the green fingered among us to show off our horticultural skills. The largest flower show in the world; it allows the horticulturally challenged, such as myself, a chance to admire the work of others. 
Hampton Court. Image via

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Hester Bateman

Hester Bateman's distinctive hallmark
I thought I might take the opportunity to consider not only one of the world's most famous silversmiths, but the most renowned female silversmith of all time