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History of the Tumbler

History of the tumbler

A tumbler is a stem-less, often flat-bottomed drinking vessel, which is typically taller than 3 inches, and has no handle.

It would seem that the word ‘tumbler’ has been in circulation since the 17th Century. Initially, it was used to describe a metal cup with a round bottom. When the tumblers were placed on the table, they would ‘tumble’ around, due to the rounded bottom. It has been suggested that this was an intentional practice in order to sell more alcohol, as the drinker couldn’t put the tumbler down until they had finished their drink. However, it is more likely that this intentional rounded base was instead crafted to aid with travelling. The rounded base of a tumbler meant that during a journey in a coach or (later) train, the cups would maintain their balance.

German silver tumbler

Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, the silver tumbler was a very popular item in both Britain and America. It has even been recorded that Samuel Pepys bought a pair in 1664 – a testament to their popularity.

Flat-bottomed cups, crafted in the 17th and 18th Centuries, which are typically taller than tumbler cups, are less common. Having said that, there are still some examples from around this time (1780s and 1790s), of bright cut engraved cups, which were crafted and produced predominately by the Bateman family.

Travelling beaker

Victorian beakers are the most common. They were typically designed as presentation cups or beakers, often with inscriptions on them to mark a special occasion.

Today, novelty cups and tumblers, such as collapsible beakers, are the most desirable pieces; as well as pieces designed for children.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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