Antique Hoggetts or Hodgett's decanters (they are called by both names, the origins of which are obscure) are very seldom seen, so I was delighted to find this example. The point is that they cannot be put down on the table as they have a rounded or pointed base, so have to stand in a special coaster which traditionally rests in front of the host.
This example is heavily cut with 'strawberry' cutting, except for an oval cartouche which is un-cut and left for and engraved coat of arms or crest. The neck is panel cut with notches about its height. The stopper with its heavily tapered plain 'peg' is cut to match. The 'coaster' is not original, but it works and we will be having a better one made as soon as time permits.
Traditionally port is poured by the host for his guset on his right, then passed from one diner to the next - always going 'port to port', i.e. to the left. Some inconsiderate guests hold the decanter up by leaving it untouched in front of them and failing to pass it on. In such circumstances someone might say "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" an obscure reference to Bishop Bathurst who famously lived to 93 and usually fell asleep at the dinner table allowing the port to stop in front of him. It is considered bad manners to ask for the port, so some people say "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?", and if that does not elicit the desired response, it might be supplemented by "He's an awfully nice person, but he doesn't allow the port to circulate"
Of course, this cannot happen if the decanter cannot be put down on account of its shape; it has to return to its special coaster - in front of the host.
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