An Unusual 19th Century Portuguse Wine Taster, Oporto, Circa 1870

Maker's mark J.R.P
4.5" diameter, .75" deep
3.5 oz

Of flared circular form with domed centre, the outside engraved with a running band of leaves. Complete with original fitted leather case.


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This pretty taster is of the "Bordeaux Type" traditionally of pain circular form with domed centre for guaging the colour of the wine. Although reasonably common in France and occasionally seen in English silver, this is the first Portuguese example we have seen. The maker's mark, although recorded in the standard book on Portuguese makers ( Marcas De Contrastas E Ouvrives Portugueses) has not been identified.

The earliest English Wine Taster is in the David Little Collection and illustrated in Timothy Schroder, English Silver Before The Civil War, p.129 no.9 . This was made by Lawrence Gilbert of Colchester in circa 1575. The shape is essentially the same apart from an applied foot to the base of the Elizabethan example. 17th century English tasters continued to have bases but by the 18th century they were largely out of fashion giving way to the shape and form of this Portuguese piece.

We have never seen any taster with an original leather case.

Please note one of the images is deliberately upside down to display the engraving.