Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 10 August 2015
Me and my big mouth
Look at this - no sooner had I bought the firing glass (below) that I bored you with the other day, than someone sends me a picture of his, above. The difference is that his is worth about £6000 more than mine.
I've got a bubble, but he has an engraved motto: 'THE FRIENDLY HUNT' engraved around the top.
There were many hunting and masonic firing glasses produced, but this is rather special. 'The Friendly Hunt' refers to a Jacobite secret society which strove for the re-establishment of the Stuarts to the British throne. There were Jacobite secret societies in London as well as Scotland, and if you were caught drinking from a glass which displayed Jacobite sympathies, you would be hanged (or worse) for treason. It was very bad for your health to drink from these, and not just because of the whisky.
There were - I am told - only 6 known examples of this glass in existence before this one turned up, though more than 7 were probably made. Glass is, in itself, a fragile material - especially in the hands of drunkards - but these glasses had to survive being tapped - or slammed - on an oak table, around once a week.
Of all the purportedly Jacobite glasses in circulation today, around 75% are fakes. Jacobite glass is - as a Scottish dealer I know told me - a minefield. This glass has been attributed as genuine by an expert, though.
How the hell do you tell fake engraving from the real, 18th century thing? In one man's case, it is by using a lifetime's worth of experience and knowledge.
I have a huge and expensive book on Jacobite glass, and the elderly man who wrote and compiled it has - over the years - identified about 15 forgers from Victorian times to the present day. They are known simply as 'Forger A', Forger B' etc. They are highly skilled and buy a genuine 1740 glass, then wheel-engrave it with the correct motto to suit their purposes, thereby turning £150 into £3000 in about half an hour. It is only by studying minute differences in style that they can be told apart, let alone individually identified. Glass cannot be carbon-dated.
Now look what I have done. I cannot get mine engraved with a similar motto now that I have shown it to all you lot.