Monday, 25 June 2012

Ce n'est pas un lampe!

When I first saw this artifact, I thought it was a lamp. Actually, I thought it was a lamp from the time I started working at the Brant Museum and Archives until about three months ago. I was researching serving pieces for a cooking exhibit I put together at the Brantford Public Library, and I saw an item that looked almost exactly like this piece as part of a Victorian serving set. I thought it was an oil lamp because of its resemblance to the “Butterfly Lamp” from Resident Evil IV (and I play way too many video games), but it is actually called a Pickle Castor.

The pickle castor is made up of four different pieces: the metal frame, lid, and tongs, and the glass canister. It was a serving piece which would have been used by a very discriminating Victorian host or hostess, who would have been absolutely mortified at the prospect of plunking down a jar of pickles on their exceptionally appointed dinner table. The castor allows the user to take the pickles out of their jar, and place them inside the glass canister. The handle allows the piece to be passed around the table, so that each guest might take which pickles they like, and the tongs mean that no lady or gentleman would need to dirty their fingers, nor would they need to be so rude as to actually reach inside the vessel for a pickle. Basically, a pickle castor is the classiest way to serve pickles without flying them down on silk scarves like cirque du soleil.

This particular castor is made of silver, and was crafted by the Meriden Britannia company of Hamilton. The blue glass is painted with multi-coloured flora, and is in excellent condition.

The pickle castor, along with an array of other Victorian items, can be seen in the Victorian parlour at the Brant Museum and Archives.

Carlie M, Program Coordinator & Development Coordinator, BHS
Click here to visit the Victorian Parlour

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