Date Made/Found: 1760-1800
Dimensions: Overall: 340 x 175 x 215mm (13 3/8 x 6 7/8 x 8 7/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: L1901.15
This is one of a pair of wine coolers made of Old Sheffield Plate between 1760 and 1800.
Evidence suggests that wine began to be cooled in bottles before consumption towards the end of the 1600s. Early wine coolers were robust vessels made of tin, brass, copper or pewter. They were placed on the floor so suffered a lot of wear and tear. Occasionally smarter ones were made in silver or marble. In the early 1700s wine coolers were often disguised as items of furniture such as small tables or stools. By the middle of the century many standalone coolers were made in wood such as mahogany.
Silver coolers were known as ‘cisterns’ and the fashion was for elaborate styles with ostentatious cast decorations. Such pieces were intended for display in the dining room as a demonstration of wealth. Other uses for large cisterns included rinsing glasses and occasionally as jardinières – to display house plants. Table top coolers like these were nearly always made in pairs.