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Household Taste

by Charles Eastlake

Primary authority on what was proper, beautiful, efficient in all aspects of mid-19th-century interior design. Originally published in 1868. Over 100 illustrations.
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Castor Sets Highlighted Victorian Tables
by Bob Brooke

A Victorian caster set.The revolving castor was one of the most widely used pieces of Victorian tableware. According to directions for setting the table given in cookbooks of the period, the castor should sit in the center of the table. Manufacturers generally made them of white Britannia Metal and then electroplated them.

Castors had been used on the table early in the 19th century, but the early type of casters set on a footed tray with center handle and weren’t electroplated. The earliest electroplated casters had a wide pierced band which served as a holder for the bottles, of which there were usually six, plus small salt dips. Makers placed the base on four feet on a wooden bottom, then topped it with an ornate handle in the center.

In 1860, castors became more elaborate and had bottles of pressed glass. Pressed glass bottle patterns ranged from Bellflower to Daisy & Button, Beaded Dewdrop, Beaded Grape, Medallion Bull's Eye, Fine Cut, Fine Rib, Gothic, Hamilton, Ivy, Honeycomb, Palmette, Powder & Shot, Thumbprint, Roman Rosette and Eugenia. They even made more expensive ones in cut glass.

The rotary castor, in which the bottles fitted into holes on a circular platform which stood on a tall cone-type base, was patented in 1862. Makers often decorated its center handle with elaborate openwork design. In the 1870's, they added heavy grape and beaded borders. Later, the low castor came back into vogue and colored pressed glass containers with Daisy and Button pattern or milk opalescent or cased glass became the rage, thus reducing the silver frame to a few wires.

Since the Victorians had a myriad of tableware, each with its own use, there were also pickle and salad castors, their containers being the most interesting feature of these later castors. In addition to pressed glass of blue, canary or crystal, makers used Pomona art glass, opalene twist, imported, decorated ruby glass and cut crystal glass. The glass containers had a fancy plated cover and decorated tongs were fastened to the stand.

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