An absolute rarity is this Meissen ‘butter cooler’ with harbour scenes, circa 1740.
It’s moulded to represent a wooden butter cooler, an item that would have been found on the refined Continental table at this period. It has slats pierced for airflow, and stands on four small scroll feet.
It is painted to the lid with two Kauffahrtei (harbour) scenes in the style of Herold,
This rare form is better known in Worcester copies than in Meissen originals: the Zorensky collection had an example, circa 1758, a decade later than this example, suggesting Meissen was the source. However, no comparable Meissen example could be traced in collections or the trade, suggesting it is a rare survivor.
The reasoning behind a butter cooler was simple: when butter was brought from the chill of the dairy to the warmth of the house, condensation would occur – rather unsavoury around dairy products – but with airholes, the butter could adjust to room temperature without unsightly pools of liquid. There is probably a matching stand to catch any leaks.
Crossed swords, circa 1740.
15cm wide, it has a hairline to lid: it is stock item #1016841 in our upcoming 2014 ‘Recent Acquisitions’ Exhibition, to open in our Geelong premises on April 12th.