Magnificent & Unusual Combined Antique English Tantalus & Cigar Safe / Humidor -1892

A very grand and most unusual "portable bar", made from solid English Oak with silver plated fittings.

This magnificent piece is a combination of a Tantalus made by the top-notch Betjemman's of London, marked on the frame and the other end marked "The Tantalus"; the wooden stand and cigar safe is also signed on the original plate on the back "Maple & Co. / Tottenham Court Rd" .

Maple & Co was established by John Maple, a shopkeeper from Horley, Surrey, who later opened a furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road. However it was his son, John Blundell Maple , who made Maples & Co a success. With exceptional business skills, John B. Maple took over the company while still a young man. By the 1880s they were the largest furniture store in the world, exported their fine furniture to every continent.

The Tantalus is locked at the side with the key supplied and when unlocked, the button is pressed down to release the bar allowing access to the two cut crystal liquor decanters. It also allows access to the domed smaller cigar box on the top. The two decanters came with these two (modest) labels which I have included)

There is a second key which unlocks the bottom drawer which in turn unlocks the upper drawer, both of the drawers are lined in Cedar (used to keep the cigars moist), this was the Victorian version of a modern day Humidor. Each of the drawers have an adjustable divider which can be removed for much longer cigars sitting length ways. The interior of the small domed cigar box on the top is 3 3/3" wide x 2 1/4" ; each of the drawers has an interior measuring 5" wide and with the divider removed has an interior length measuring just shy of 8". Above the drawers is a tiny drawer for matches.

The two large cut crystal decanters (3 1/2" square x 9 1/4" tall) were specially made with a void on the underside to sit on the Oak Square plinth on the base of the stand. A most unusual feature of this piece is the four glasses to each corner and once lifted off reveals a smaller shot glass underneath. The large glass standing 4 1/2" tall and the small shot glass standing 2 1/2" tall. All the glass is beautifully hand cut in the ever-popular hobnail design.

There are two plates to the reverse side of the piece, one already mentioned with the maker's signature, the other has an English Design Registration number on of 199387 which allows us to date it to 1892.

A grand and impressive piece measuring 18" x 12" x 12" tall to top of handle.

Item ID: 35358

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$5,500 USD

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Andrew Puckering, London, UK   

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