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The best thing about collecting antiques is, you are collecting pieces of history and sometimes personal stories which would never be known to someone else than the owner and maybe their family. And too often the stories die with the owners of the antique objects.
Not this story.
It is the story of a Danish family’s absinthe glass. The family owned the absinthe glass since 1920, when their great-grandparents got six of them as a wedding gift.
They don’t know whether their great-grandparents and the following generations used them for absinthe.
However, after more than a half century the glasses were passed down to the uncle, who gladly used them, well, for beer schnapps. Because the small reservoir (2 cl) was just perfect for schnapps. He called his absinthe glass “ølhunden”, which means ‘the beer dog’ in Danish.
These two carafes from the 1900s have tiny snouts for pouring ice-cold water into a glass of absinthe. The big has a capacity of 1 liter and the small one only 0.5 liter. The small guy is fairly rare today. Compared to the big carafe that cost 75 ct. it was with 60 ct. also rather expensive in the old days.
The picture above is from a sales catalogue, where the two sizes are listed. Both carafe were also sold with cuts.
Below is a bonus picture of the two water carafes together with an absinthe carafe with emaille label.
We just opened the bottle of pre-ban Pernod Fils! Everyone was sooo excited about it. There is always a risk for that the bottle wasn’t stored properly, that the cork has gone bad and that the absinthe has “died”, so we were also a bit nervous when we began to break the wax seal. The wax was extremely thick and hard. We were soon convinced that the bottle has been absolutely airtight sealed for the past hundred years. The chances that the absinthe was good increased tremendously. Finally the cork was visible. We pulled the cork out, and then … a wonderful fragrance was streaming from the bottle. We hurried to fill a dose into a glass. The color was similar to a brandy. Then we let ice water slowly drip into the absinthe. It swirled and louched nicely, the color turning first into a pale peach and then into a creamy white. We couldn’t wait any longer amd tasted it. The Pernod Fils was round and harmonic, its wormwood tingling our taste buds. It was very, very good. Probably the best vintage absinthe that I have tasted yet.
Edit: I bought this bottle at www.antiquespirits.com. The owner of the business is a friend of mine, and recently I started helping with the website and communication with international customers. I think it is a lot of fun, because I am learning each day something new about pre-ban absinthes. If you too are interested in pre-ban absinthes, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, comment here or leave a message on my Facebook.
We fell in love with two antique oil paintings that we bought in Paris. The first one is a still-life with absinthe glass, saucer and pipe. The colors are very well-preserved and vibrant. Not only the pipe but also the Oeuf-glass and the plain gray saucer indicate that this is the green-hour of a simple man, rather a blue-collar worker than a wealthy gentleman. According to the signature the work is from a female artist: Yvonne Guiot (or maybe Guiol).
The second one shows a bearded man with hat, who is depicted in front of a table with a glass of absinthe. The man’s face, which we only see in profile, clearly and naturalistic, is the center of the focus. The further away from the center, the image gets gradually more blurred and perspectively distorted. The unknown artist might have been influenced by the Impressionist movement which originated in Paris during the 1870’s and 1880’s.
Both paintings portray absinthe scenes from the working class. There is nothing bourgeois or bohemian in those pictures. Absinthe is here not a symbol of a glamorous life-style. It rather looks like it is a break from work, kind of an everyday-escapism: Sitting down, smoking a pipe and sipping an absinthe. A little ritual in the increasingly hectic world in the era of the Second Industrial Revolution that culminated in mass production and the production line.
This extremely rare Pontarlier glass contains a certain amount of radioactive uranium. Shined on with blacklight it glows eerily. Tested with a Geiger counter it showed a radiation of around 80 mrem which means it safe to drink from.
We used just a little UV-torch and due to the opacity of the rich louche (Sapphire by Bugnon) it doesn’t much glow in this picture, but you can see its beautiful shape.
I will post more information about this glass in another post.
This is my favorite absinthe spoon because it reminds me of my childhood vacations on the Swiss Alpes: The centerpiece of the spoon is shaped as a stilized (leontopodium alpinum), the lovely silver-white flowers that grow at high-altitude.
The flower is the unofficial national flower of Switzerland. It is unofficial probably because its name is German and because it doesn’t have a French, Italian or Rhaeto-Romance name which are Switzerland’s three other official national languages. Therefore the Edelweiss also used to be a symbol of Swiss-German culture dominating the nation’s other cultures and diminishing the diversity. I don’t think that there was a political message in the design of the spoon though. It is just a very beautifully crafted absinthe spoon.
Both pitchers are made by Firmin Michelet. One is green with different shades of pink. The other one is brown and golden.