The Pegged Tankard
Originating in wooden tankards, the peg system was introduced by King Edgar I the Peaceful; he was the King of England 959 to 975AD. The interior of the tankards would be fitted with wooden pegs or nails to divide the volume equally into eighths.
This innovative system was used to bring awareness to the amount of liquor being digested, as at this time a tankard would be capable of holding approximately two quarts of ale (over two litres) -which would be consumed at a rapid rate.
The Saxon kings’ prior influence over alcohol in taverns caused this new King- in addition to the church- to step in and set the peg law. This law stated when vessels incorporating the pegs were drank from, if in one draught you took more than one pegs worth, you were to be fined a penny.
A Royal Reference
The investigation into the history of the pegged tankard began whilst researching the style of the tankard displayed above (ref A4598). My interest peaked when I found reference to an impressive silver gilt pegged tankard gifted to the 18th century King of England, William IV; this piece matches the same style as the antique one we attained..
Both featuring identical pomegranate feet, the main differences were the plain body- as opposed to the impressive finely engraved botanical decoration John Plummer had produced for the King. It can be concluded that the antique silver tankard we are able to share with you is in the style of the pegged tankard only, as it does not include the vertical row of pegs to the interior that were used in the pegged tankards under Edgar I the Peaceful.
I personally find it comforting knowing that the concept of alcohol awareness existed before this modern age. In the past they passed laws and created taxes to force consumers to fall in line, whereas today the state provides weeks devoted to the cause and displays adverts requiring you take responsibility of your own liquor intake. I may try and convince Mr Campbell to attach a personalised note to the future owner stating “In honour of the Peaceful King, drink responsibly”.
Rachel O'Keefe-Coulson – Multimedia Executive
Rachel O'Keefe is our 'silver lady' spending her days handling silverware and processing these items for the AC Silver website. Amazingly, Rachel’s favourite items of silverware are spoons, for which she has developed a true affinity.