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Antique French Walnut & Ebonised Tantalus C.1860

Antique French Walnut & Ebonised Tantalus C.1860

Antique French Walnut & Ebonised Tantalus C.1860


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About this item

This is an exquisite antique French serpentine fronted burr walnut Napoleon III " Cave a Liqueur", with ebony and satinwood inlay, circa 1860 in date.

The tantalus has a hinged cover and folding front enclosing a lift-out waiter fitted with the original beautifully engraved set of four decanters and sixteen glasses.

It bears a brass label engraved with the name and address of the eminent maker,

Raimon et Fils, Rue St. Martin 59, Paris.

It is an absolutely superb set which is sure to attract a lot of attention.


In excellent condition, please see photos for confirmation of condition.

Dimensions in cm:

Height 27 x Width 33 x Depth 24 - case

Dimensions in inches:

Height 11 inches x Width 1 foot, 1 inch x Depth 9 inches - case

Tantalus- Cave a Liqueur
is a type of liquor decanter in which the bottle stoppers are locked down tightly by a metal bar. This was to prevent the theft of the contents by servants. Like the name suggests, the decanters themselves are visible, drawing temptation while unattainable. A key is required for entry.

The most common types of tantalus holds three bottles or decanters while there are also smaller types housing only two. There are many different forms of tantalus. Often the encasement has metal handles on both sides and ornately carved decor. Crystal and metal versions are also a beautiful option when choosing a tantalus.

Tantalus derived its name from the story of the mythological Greek king, Tantalus. To be tantalized is to be tempted with the unattainable, and the king, condemned to an eternity in Hades, was sorely tested. He was forced to stand forever in water that, when he bent to drink, would recede and to gaze upon foods he could only reach for and never grasp.

The 1800s saw our Victorian predecessors apply the King's name to the lockable decanter.

Burr Walnut
refers to the swirling figure present in nearly all walnut when cut and polished, and especially in the wood taken from the base of the tree where it joins the roots. However the true burr is a rare growth on the tree where hundreds of tiny branches have started to grow. Burr walnut produces some of the most complex and beautiful figuring you can find.


W33.0 x H27.0 x D24.0 cm



Wear condition


Date of manufacture



19th Century




VAT status

Seller is VAT registered


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