This is an extremely rare pottery bin label for Bronte, and one which provokes activity of the grey cells. It is impressed on the back "SPODE 5". Its rarity lies in the fact that the lettering it is not only in upper and lower case cursive script, but also that it is carried out in pink/puce/lilac lustre. Lustre is a form of decoration on pottery giving the decoration an almost metallic sheen.
Bin labels are almost always utilitarian. So, for the sake of clarity in dark cellars where the only source of light would be a candle, they are usually decorated in black capital letters on a white ground. What makes this a delightful curiosity, is that while it is a bin label, it is obviously meant to be seen by 'polite society' (otherwise why is it so decoratively inscribed?) - and a cellar is not where they usually went!
Marsala was first imported into England in 1773 by Woodhouse, but following Admiral Lord Nelson's enoblement by the King of Naples as Duke of Bronte in 1799, the firm re-named their Marsala, 'Bronte'. This was on account of the naval hero's order for vast quantities of Marsala for the Royal Navy. Silver wine labels for Bronte have been recorded for various dates between 1805 and 1847.
Oddly I have owned this label before; I had it, together with three others from the same set, in 1977, when they featured in my exhibition "The Philoenic Antiquary" as part of the BADA 60 festival of 1978. As so often happens with the label-collecting fraternity, they have been split up, and the integrity of the set has been lost.
It is illustrated in my Great British Wine Accessories 1550 - 1900 on page 30 , pl. 2/9.
Dimensions: 5.15", 13.1 cm wide
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