Q A

Sunday Mirror - - SAIRAKHAN -

I own an oak drinks case which holds three glass de­canters. It is locked by a key, which is hid­den in a se­cret com­part­ment. It’s a very odd con­trap­tion and I can’t find out any­thing about it. I’d say it was over 100 years old. Barry Mather, Ox­ford You have a Tan­talus! Tan­talus was a Greek king who, as a pun­ish­ment from the gods, was made to stand in front of wa­ter and a fruit tree. Each time he tried to eat or drink, they moved away! Ser­vants would have found their em­ployer’s port or sherry tantalising – hence the name. The key was usu­ally hid­den in a se­cret drawer and they were made up un­til the Twen­ties. Most ex­am­ples in good or­der should be in­sured for around £200. If you have a sil­ver han­dle, then maybe £300 to £400. The pres­ence of the three de­canters (cut glass is bet­ter than moulded) and the stop­pers sig­nif­i­cantly in­creases the value.

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