Tunbridge Ware Coconut Cups and Wooden Tankards

Norwegian Lion Peg Wooden Tankards and Coconut Cups

The first reference to a coconut cup in England occurred in 1259 when the Bishop of Durham bequeathed his silver mounted ‘Indye’ bowl with silver mounts. It wasn’t until Tudor times until coconut cups became more commonplace but only amongst the aristocracy and wealthy members of society. Those that survive display pierced and fret outlined silver straps connecting the top rim to the silver stand a form which appears to have continued into the 17th century albeit with plainer straps.

Perhaps one of the most celebrated silver mounted examples is to be found in the Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries collection. Dated 1669 the nut is carved with three panels each illustrating three incidents involving King Charles 11 fleeing from Cromwell’s troops after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

In the 18th and 19th century coconut cups became more commonplace and tend to be of plain and polished appearance devoid of carving with ornamentation now restricted to the silver mounts. In the 19th century both coconuts, Coco de Mer and Ostrich eggs might often be be found in a cabinet of curiosities or a gentleman’s library, being considered novelty souvenirs often acquired by those of means able to travel the world in the ongoing Age of Enlightenment.

Tankards made from a single piece of birch root, is a wooden version of metal ‘peg’ or lidded tankards made across the Nordic and Baltic countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. The shape derives from German tankards of the Baroque style of the period.

Tankards were often made for marriages or other special occasions and became family heirlooms. They were also given to women after childbirth. There was an element of ritual in their use. Some have dots inscribed in a vertical line or pegs on the inside to indicate the amount of ale or wine individuals should drink, as it was passed around the group at a family gathering. The origins of ‘taking you down a peg or two”

The lion ‘peg’ sugests the heraldic lion of Norway, possibly symbolise national pride. Tankards with a lion finial, and sometimes also on the base and lion feet are called ‘lion tankards’ Lœvekanne or simply “Lion Peg” when anglicised these are often described as being a “Norwegian ceremoninal lion peg tankard” although their origin is not exclusively Norwegian and not entirely ceremonial