The Angler’s Delight – Scott Wilson

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I was fortunate to acquire a piece of angling history recently. A wonderful curiosity from the sport of fishing past which precedes slightly the publishing of the best known old edition of “The Compleat Angler” by J Major (2nd ed., 1824).

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We have fished and hunted for sport and for sustenance for quite some time and during that time, in various cultures, we’ve developed odd and interesting was to celebrate the hunt and the enjoyment of the spoils. In Merry Old England, at the turn of the 18th century from 1780 to 1820 it was popular to carry small vessels fashioned from pottery and silver that resembled your quarry and your trusty hounds. These were referred to as “stirrup cups”, used to drink a toast at the start, at the end…and likely during a fox, hare or deer hunt or angling adventure.

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These cups remain much sought after by collectors because of their whimsical nature as well as their relative rarity, which is probably the result of the function in which they were employed.

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I’ve been sent a few examples of the hunting variety for restoration but had not seen nor handled a fishing related stirrup cup during my last 20 years in the antique business. The hounds and fox in the above picture are pearlware pottery examples made in the Staffordshire district of England ca. 1800. The trout is the example that I recently purchased which was made at Derby, an English porcelain manufacturer of note and also ca. 1800.

The detail of these little cups is really amazing. Sizes vary and this particular example is 5 ¼” overall length. Below is another beautifully painted example that was offered by British dealer Delmosne and Son, Ltd., Wiltshire, London and about which specialist Tim Osborne commented that he’s only seen two examples in twenty years.

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Just as military battles and historical events, social and political commentary and the style of the times have been recorded on pottery and porcelain throughout the ages, so too has our enjoyment of the water and what lies below the surface.

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