INTACT English ‘shaft and globe’ bottles from the 17th century are among the trophies of early bottle and glass collecting.
Sealed examples are particularly hard to find for sale and this
example, offered by BBR as part of the 21st UK
Summer National advertising and bottle fair at Elsecar, South
Yorkshire on July 2-3, was in particularly fine condition.
A relatively small size at 8½in (22cm) high and dated to
c.1665-70, it was dug out from the mud of a moated manor house
close to the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border in the 1987. Analysis
of similar fragments from the same source suggest they were made
locally - perhaps at the wood-fired glasshouses at Blower Park,
Knowle Wood and Bishops Wood worked by the migrant French
glassmaking families of Tyzack, Henzy and Tittery.
Shaft and globes were utilitarian vessels but (dating exactly to
the era of Samuel Pepys's famous diary accounts of tavern drinking
and the sealing of his own bottles) such vessels were used as table
decanters and belonged only to prosperous taverns and wealthy
The original owner of this bottle with the letters RB
stamped in mirror image (evidently the diecutter did not reverse
the letter forms) could well have been Roger or Robert de Beck who
lived near Uttoxeter.
Specialist Alan Blakeman called it the finest sealed bottle to
be sold by BBR for 30 years and there was speculation it could
bring more than a recently dug shaft and globe bottle with handle
sold by the firm at the equivalent event in 2008 for £21,000.
As it was, it fell just short selling to a UK dealer at £19,000
(plus 12% buyer's premium).
By Roland Arkell