Bohemian Decanter with Copper Wheel Engravings

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This 1790 circa Wine Decanter with copper wheel engravings is full of Masonic symbolism.  Surrounded by the Sprigs of Acacia and the cabletow is the Sun, Moon, and working tools of early Operative Masonry.  All surmounted by the Bow which represents the famous "Mystic Tie" that Bro. Robert Burns spoke so eloquently spoke about in his poetry.  The Sun as the source of material light reminds the Mason of that intellectual light of which he is in constant search.  But it is especially as the ruler of the day, giving to it a beginning and end, and a regular course of hours, that the Sun is presented as a Masonic symbol.   Hence, of the three lesser lights, we are told that one represents or symbolizes the Sun, one the Moon, and one the Master of the Lodge, because, as the Sun rules the day and the moon governs the night, so should the Worshipful Master rule and govern his Lodge with equal regularity and precision.  Thus Gwillim says:  "The sun is the symbol of sovereignty, the hieroglyphic of royalty; it doth signify absolute authority." 

This Decanter features a band of cut fluting at the neck and base which measures 9 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter.  Both the form and decoration of the decanter match the patterns in a glass catalog dating around 1790, now in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum Libraries.  Two catalogs with drawings of glass patterns captioned in German were discovered on Gardiner's Island, New York, where they have a long history of ownership.  The name "Johannes Schiefner," which appears on an accompanying price list, has been tentatively associated with a Bohemian glass works, but the American merchant who used the catalogs is not known (Dwight Lanmon, "The Baltimore Glass Trade," Winterthur Portfolio 5, The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1969).  An amazing feature about this hand-blown engraved decanter is that the little sun and moon are only 5/16 of on an inch in height, yet they show enough detail for all of the facial features to be clearly visible under a loop.   Copper wheel engraving is becoming another lost art which only increases the value of the piece. 




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