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Rare antique pewter wine taster/tastevin with 12-sided bowl and attached twisted handle with a loop. The bow is hand cast with a folding rim and intriguing design in the center triangle in the form of 3 jumping rabbits and foliage. Excellent condition for its age. Maker is unknown, Continental origin, 18th early 19th century. A tastevin is a small, very shallow silver pewter cup or saucer traditionally used by winemakers and sommeliers when judging the maturity and taste of a wine.
The saucer-like cups were originally created by Burgundian winemakers to enable them to judge the clarity and color of wine that was stored in dim, candle-lit wine cellars. Regular wine glasses were too deep to allow for accurate judging of the wine’s color in such faint light. Tastevin are designed with a shiny faceted inner surface. Wine cups or tastevin are mentioned occasionally in European inventories from 1200-1600, although none are known to exist today. About 1680 silver cups about 3-4 inches in diameter and 1-2 inches deep came into use in France by affluent people. The custom spread and they came into general use among the wealthy around 1720-1750. They were made by master silversmiths, and were often decorated and engraved with the owner’s name. Their size and shape allowed them to be carried in a pocket at all times, and they were prized possessions like rings or watches. Each region in France had its own characteristic style. They were mostly male possessions, but in Normandy about 15 percent were engraved with women’s names.