The Eighth Day of an 1862 Christmas…

On the eighth day of Christmas the 1862 Committee gave to me… eight Maids a Milking

 

Alexandre Gueyton, Teapot and Sugar Basin, 1862, silver gilt and champleve enamel, Paris, France, 1862, Victoria and Albert Museum, 8002-1862 © V&A, 2013

Alexandre Gueyton, Teapot and Sugar Basin, 1862, silver gilt and champleve enamel, Paris, France, 1862, Victoria and Albert Museum, 8002-1862 © V&A, 2013

This teapot was made as part of a service displayed at the 1862 International Exhibition.  In April 1862 the Melbourne newspaper, The Argus, ran a preview article on the 1862 International Exhibition.  Alongside their discussion of the building, the ease with which visitors would be able to get to the building, and the price of the tickets on sale, the author made a few preliminary remarks on the exhibition’s refreshment department.  Arguing that it was impossible to comment on the quality of the food that was to be served at the exhibition, they did record the commissioner’s intention to provide ‘snacks’, ‘lunches’ and ‘dinners’ at varying prices, as well as water free of charge to any visitor who required it.  In accordance with the great British tradition of tea, it is likely that large amounts of this beverage – and the required accompanying milk – were served to thirsty visitors.  One wonders how long it would have taken eight maids milking to have fulfilled the exhibitions’ daily milk order!

© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2013

 

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