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Wednesday, July 18, 2012


What's It Wednesday #34
Today I'm sharing a rather tantalizing item, the tantalus. The tantalus is an open work rack that holds large cut crystal liquor decanters, usually in sets of three or two. (Mine is a single!) The tops of the decanters are secured with a locking mechanism so that the stoppers can’t be removed unless the tantalus is unlocked with a key.

The tantalus gets its name from the Greek mythological king, Tantalus, since tantalized means to be “tempted with something unattainable”.  King Tantalus was condemned to spend eternity in hell, forced to stand in a pool of water that receded each time he bent to drink, never able to quench his thirst.

It was patented in 1881 by John Betjemann . It was once thought that it was designed to prevent household servants from stealing or sampling the decanter’s contents. However, it is much more likely that the ingenious device was just another novelty that became popular with the affluent middle-class of the late nineteenth century. Tantaluses were popular in England up through the early 20th century.

Hope I was able to tempt you with my tantalus! Thirty?


And thank you all for participating in our "What's It Wednesday" Linky Party! 

Don’t forget to grab a feature button:
Ivy and Elephants 

Here are this week’s features:

Come show off your whatchamacallits, what is its, what it once was, and "hey, look what I just did" posts. In other words, what you created, organized, designed or re-designed, found, purchased, transformed, inherited, repurposed, renovated, are selling, or giving-away.

Please be sure to do the following for us:
  1. Provide a link back to your post (not your main blog url).
  2. Feel free to copy and paste our party button on your sidebar. This way other fabulous folks can join in the fun as well.
  3. Mix and mingle by visiting the other party people and show them some love (leave a sweet comment).
  4. Don't forget to leave us a comment. We love hearing from you! 


Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

How interesting and what a fun piece. I have found some fabulous decanters recentely, but not one of these. Thanks tons for hosting. Hugs, Marty

Carlene @ Organized Clutter said...

I can say for sure that I have never seen a tantulus. Great features today!

Anonymous said...

Yours is a very beautiful example.

Trisha said...

How neat! Sounds like some parents might need these to keep their kids out of stuff! Thanks for the fun times!


Blessed Serendipity said...

I learned something new about a tantalus. I have never heard of this before. Yours is beautiful. Thanks for hosting the party.


Rhissanna said...

Wow! You got a lovely example of a tantalus there. I love that you can see the mechanism on the side. The actual decanter is gorgeous, too. I so need one of these for Hubby's Steampunk Study!

Revi said...

I ALWAYS get an education when I visit. That tantalus is pretty cool! Wish I'd had one when my sons were teens. :) I ended up giving my stash of cooking liqueurs away. BTW, I have that same crystal decanter...a wedding present eons ago.

I stopped by to visit the party and was delighted to see I've been featured! Thanks so much, Ladies.

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

What an interesting item! Thankyou for educating me on that. Now if I see one while out and about on my antique excursions I'll know exactly what it is! Have a great week! Gina

Cottage and Broome said...

The tow of you come up with the most interesting items, I'd never heard of a tantalus. Love the shoes from last week. Thanks for hosting again, Laura

SwedishCorner ~ DownUnder...Pernilla said...

Wow, what a beautiful piece! Thank you so much for hosting :) Lovely features. Greetings from Australia♥ ~Pernilla

Burlap Luxe said...

Hi Patti,
You have the best what's it's.

You never fail to intrigue us with your treasures :)
Yours features always inspire us as well.

Have a beautiful end of the week see you soon with your next treasure or two :)


Curtains in My Tree said...

I learn someting everytime i come over here

do you borrow all these wonderful things or are they yours?

Faye said...

Interesting! I never knew that. Thanks for hosting!

The White Pear Tree said...

That's definitely a neat gizmo! A conversation piece for sure. I've never seen one of these!

Thank you for stopping by my blog and for hosting' Patti!

Poppy @ With a Dash of Color said...

You always have the most tantalizing collectible to showcase and it is always so much fun to know about them:)Thanks for hosting this week! Have a lovely evening!~Poppy

cathywhatisoldisnew said...

Your post was so interesting as I have never heard of a tantulus! I linked the cottage shed up with your party and I hope I did it correctly. Thank you for the invitation.

The Tablescaper said...

I've seen these before, but never knew they had a name - let alone a name with such an interesting history!

- The Tablescaper


You always have the most interesting, informative posts. LOVE What's It Wednesday!


Heaven's Walk said...

I have to agree with everyone else, Patti! Your posts are always so informative! Thanks for another interesting tidbit of history! :)

xoxo laurie

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Great piece. Thanks for hosting.

Kim @ French Country Antiques said...

Everyone is right...your posts are so interesting and very informative. I really loved the history behind the tantalus. Thanks for hosting!

Sarah said...

Tantalizing, indeed! This is a beautiful piece and such and interesting post. Thanks for hosting......Sarah

The Charm of Home said...

What a fascinating object! Thanks for the story!

NanaDiana said...

I never knew what this object was before seeing it here. Amazing! Looks like a great party here today- xo Diana

The Liberty Belle said...

I confess... I'm tempted by your tantalus! What a nice treasure!

Kathryn Ferguson Griffin said...

Thank you so much for hosting. Hope you gals have a grand week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

Glenda/MidSouth said...

What an interesting piece. What someone else said - parents might need these. :D
Thanks for hosting again this week.

Anne said...

Great features! I have never heard of a tantulus!But that is quite beautiful!

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

As is the case with most of the beautiful things you collect . . . I have not ever heard of this piece! How fascinating it's origin is - thank you for enlightening and tantalizing us!

Stan and Jody Gabara said...

When I came home today I was thrilled you had featured my Vintage Shoes in the Garden. It is such an honor to be recognized with the other features.Thank you so much. I always learn something new from your blog. I have never heard of a tantulus, thanks for sharing this beautiful piece. Lovely party also!


Dee ⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️ said...

Hi Girls,

You both always have the best stuff. The tantalus is beyond cool!

Thanks so much for featuring me. Kelly and I had so much fun redoing her kitchen.


must love junk said...

A very unique piece! Thanks for hosting :)

janice15 said...

First time I ever seen or heard of's a very nice piece...I love the Garden heels they are so sweet and such a great Idea...I love growing Thyme but that would be need to grow in some high heels..very nice post thanks for sharing it with the info...Have a sweet evening with love Janice

Karen said...

I learn something every time I visit your blog. I've never seen or heard of a tantulus before now. It would come in handy in today's households LOL. I'm on a mission to learn more about them, I'm intrigued. Thanks for always sharing such great info.

Ethereal PLUS what I Love said...

Patti, Thanks for sharing the info on the tantalus. I found it very interesting :)


You have honored me featuring my tablescape, I am so very thankful to you dear ladies for featuring me in such fabulous party. I haven't had internet for almost three days, so I haven't been able to thank you on time. I'll be grabing my button inmediatelly and posting soon to join the new party! Thank you for hosting every week, I love to link up!


Sorry, I was so excited about my feature and I didn't mention how interesting your post is about "tantalus" I just learned about, very unusual mechanism. I love decanters..but then again, what don't I love!!
Many hugs,


Thank you for hosting dear I am late, better than never!!

Kathy said...

Great pour me a tall glass of something smooth. Great story, yes I have seen one but never knew what it was. The decanter is great, I love to store stoppers in a bowl. I am always on the hunt for them. Thanks for hosting the party. Kathy

Rebecca Nelson said...

Wow! I loved reading about this! Nowadays someone would just bust up the Tantulus and steal the liquor!



Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

What an interesting piece, Patti! I've never heard of these before. The decanter is just lovely, too.

Carole said...

Always fun to see how people in history used their everyday things. It was a great time of invention and some of the things they used I wonder why we still don't.

Thanks for stopping by.


Julia @ Vintage with Laces said...

That's such an awesome piece, Patti! Thank you for sharing!

Little Black Footprints said...

Really interesting, I have never seen one before but will watch out as I can put my Baileys in it for Christmas and stop my 18 year old daughter drinking it as she likes Baileys at Christmas too :)LBF x

Palomasea said...

I have never seen anything like this, dear's fascinating!
I do love crystal decanters...
Hope you are having a wonderful summer!
- Irina

Diann said...

What a lovely piece! I have never seen one before. Thank you for sharing at TTF last week. I hope you are having a fantastic day!


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