TANTALUS WITH 3 CUT GLASS DECANTERS
BRITISH, CIRCA 1850
Mirrored glass, Oak
To tantalise that is the meaning of Tantalus. And so the tantalus does, with its sparkly crystal decanters filled with soul-warming spirits.
The first lockable Tantalus appeared around the mid 19th. The decanted alcohol can only be accessed by unlocking and raising or lowering a handle or bar. The Tantalus was first used by the owners of large, grand houses of this period to protect the decanted alcohol from being drunk by their butlers & other staff. Therefore the alcohol was kept just out of reach tantalizing.
(Brief mythological tidbit: Tantalus was the son of Zeus and was the king of Sipylos. He was uniquely favored among mortals since he was invited to share the food of the gods. However, he abused the guest-host relationship, bad, bad, bad, and was punished by being "tantalized" with hunger and thirst in Tartarus: he was immersed up to his neck in water, but when he bent to drink, it all drained away; luscious, ripe, tasty fruit hung on trees just above him, but when he reached for their yumminess the winds blew the branches beyond his reach.)