The Kit-Cat Club Decanter circa 1700
Lot 38
The Kit-Cat Club Decanter circa 1700
Sold for £8,400 (US$ 14,110) inc. premium
Lot Details
The Kit-Cat Club Decanter
circa 1700
Possibly made in Dresden, engraved in London either by Andreas Friedrich Sang or Georg Kreybich, the flattened ovoid form with tapering neck and string rim, above an applied footring, the front engraved with nine men seated around a circular table laid for a meal, inscribed Jacob Tonson-P below drapery, the reverse with a similar scene of three men seated around a table, one holding a decanter another a wine glass, each scene within a strapwork cartouche flanked by berried branches and foliate scroll, the first inscribed The Kitcat, above the reverse with The Toasts, inscribed on the shoulder This Unites us, below a band of foliate scroll, 28cm high (crizzling)


  • Provenance:
    Anon. sale, Sotheby's, 14 May 2003, lot 101

    Andy McConnell, The Decanter (2004), frontispiece
    Simon Cottle, 'The Kit-Cat Club Decanter', Annales du 16e Congrès de l'Association Internationale pour l'Histoire du Verre (London, 2003), pp.267-270.

    The Kit-Cat Club was founded in London towards the end of the 17th century by Lord Somers, the Lord Chancellor, and the publisher Jacob Tonson, its secretary, who lived at Barr Elms in south London. Its members were influential Whig politicians such as Robert Walpole, the Duke of Marlborough and the Earl of Burlington who began meeting in Christopher Cat's tavern near Temple Bar and later at Barr Elms. The club took its name from his mutton pies known as Kit-cats, a sample of which can be seen on the tables in the engraved images on the decanter. The Kit-Cat Club is best known through the magnificent set of portraits of its members by Sir Godfrey Kneller - which were gifts to Jacob Tonson - now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

    For a fuller account of the decanter, Jacob Tonson, the Kit-Cat Club and its origins see Cottle, op.cit. (2003) and C.J.Barrett, The history of Barr Elms and the Kit-Cat Club now the Ranelagh Club (London, 1889).

    It is thought that the flask was brought to London in the early 18th century by an itinerant German engraver - possibly Georg Kreybich or Andreas Friedrich Sang, both of whom have associations with Dresden. The style of engraving and the shape of the decanter strongly supports a Dresden origin.