|Tantalus - from Greek mythology - 'Tantalos' - the mythical
King of Phriygia and son of Zeus and the Nymph Pluto. He was condemned
for revealing the Gods, to stand up to his chin in water, which perceptually
shrunk away when he attempted to quench his thirst. He had branches of fruit
hanging above him that always evaded his grasp. Tantalise - to tease
or torment by holding out some desirable object and continually disappointing
by keeping it out of reach.
Tantalus - a spirit stand in which the decanters remain in sight but are secured by a lock.
To date 5 lockable Tantalus have been commissioned. You will note from the picture (left) that there is some 'worm eaten' timber at the top of the smaller Tantalus - this was a deliberate feature within the design in accordance with the purchasers requirements who felt that it would add interest and character to his Tantalus. A real talking point to impress his friends when bringing out the after dinner drinks. The degradation is in fact the remains of gribble worm attack which took place when the timber from this famous shipwreck, was laying undisturbed in the murky depths of the Solent for more than two hundred years.
These two (left) are seen here in the cabinet makers workshop.
In early Victorian times, it was socially very important for the upper classes to show off the fact that they were indeed wealthy. During this period in history, cut glass items were very much in fashion and in particular decanters full of claret or port were there, not only for drinking, but for visitors to admire. The problem was that many of the wealthy households had servants such as a butler, kitchen staff housekeepers etc. When the master was away it was very tempting for house staff to help themselves to the odd drop from the decanter and top it up with water. In order to stop this happening the Tantalus was developed. These were fine pieces of attractive furniture that allowed the cut glass decanters to be shown off but stopped the servants getting at the content. In other words, in accordance with Greek mythology, the spirit in the decanter could be seen but not touched! Very 'tantalising'!
A slightly different design (right) to the ones above, was made by top cabinet maker, fine craftsman and good friend John Burchett.
Above & Left
I commissioned a fine cabinet maker to craft this and was my own personal Tantalus, which took pride of place in my study for may years. The certificate of authentication is cleverly sealed behind glass underneath the base of the Tantalus. Before final sealing, the certificate is signed by me, John Broomhead, the first diver to visit the wreck. It was part of my collection until a gentleman fell in love with it and persuaded me to sell it to him. Unfortunatley, I do not have sufficient Invincible timber left to make myself another one.
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