Two Norwegian Peg Tankards

Although I didn’t film anything at yesterday’s Blair Castle Antiques Roadshow, I was lucky enough to find a great many fascinating and desirable things to look at. Amongst them were these two wooden lidded tankards, owned by a lovely old lady in a wheelchair. She and her husband had been given them as a wedding present over 50 years ago and, although she loved them, she had no idea what they were or when and where they had been made.
I was delighted to be able to tell her that they were ‘peg tankards’, and probably dated from the late 17th or early 18th century. Made in silver or wood, they got their name from a series of pegs fixed into the interior at regular intervals. After being filled with beer, ale or cider, each drinker would drain enough beer to reveal a peg, and then pass the tankard on to their friend – and so on.
These two were probably made in Norway in the late 17thC, but these vessels were also produced across Scandinavia and in a number of other European countries. The thumbpieces and feet were typically carved as beasts, and the example in the background has a marvellously detailed carved lid showing a proud and fierce looking lion. Although they form a collecting market all of their own, they’re also classed as popular and highly collectable treen.
And their value? I thought that £1,200 was fair auction value for the example in the foreground, and that the lion on the lid and the extra detail on the feet and thumbpiece of the other one pushed the value up to £1,500. However, as they were also amongst the largest examples I’ve seen, they may well go for a bit more – it would be nice to think that the pair may make over £3,000. As for the lovely lady owner, to say she was delighted is an understatement! It wasn’t the value that mattered, she told me, but rather the fact that she finally knew what she had been looking after and gently dusting all these years!

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