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Friday, 25 March 2011

Tantalised by a Tantalus!

This week we are looking at a Tantalus as well as the fascinating history behind the term 'Tantalus'.


A quick definition, courtesy of Wikipedia...
"The name "Tantalus" is the origin of the English verb "to tantalize". The underlying idea is that when someone is tantalized, that person goes through the same experience as Tantalus*: something desirable is always just out of that person's reach"


*Tantalus in Greek mythology, is a ruler of an ancient city called 'Tantalis' and perhaps most notably a son of Zeus, father of the gods. Tantalus was said to have sacrificed his son and served his boiled body to a banquet of the God's, after which his punishment was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for a piece of fruit, the branches raised the fruit from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to take a drink, the water disappeared before he could get any. This fate cursed him with eternal deprivation of nourishment, hence the term 'Tantalus' becoming proverbial for temptation without satisfaction.


The concept of being tantalised is quite an accurate analogy for the item we have just added to our stock today - it is desirable and tempting, although unless you have the key there is no way to derive pleasure from the liquids within the decanters!


This is a 19th century Victorian Betjemanns patent coromandel wood and Birdseye maple three bottle Tantalus. The tantalus is unusual in that it's a smaller model designed to hold liqueurs. The three square shaped decanters sit in compartments lined with beautiful birds eye maple and are locked in place with the rotating handle. The stand is coromandel wood veneered and has gilt metal mounts, an elegant handle and strong feature lock, signed 'Betjemanns patent'. This tantalus is in very good condition and has been sympathetically
restored. The only damage we have found is a very small chip to one of the decanters. The lock does come complete with its key - Thank goodness!

The gilt metal mounted initials read J S C most likely the original owners. £1,200 (Circa 1870)
We have a good selection of Tantalus's in stock at the moment and they do make very impressive gifts due to their weight, appearance and practical purpose.

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