Bottle Carrier

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Bottle Carrier, English, Early 19th Century
Maker: Unknown
Medium: Mahogany
K187 Donated by John Gilman D’Arcy Paul in 1966

If you were invited to a dinner party at the Hammond-Harwood House two hundred years ago, you would have been the guest of Richard Loockerman and his wife, Frances Townley Chase Loockerman.

While the house is now known as the Hammond-Harwood House, in the 19th century the home was called Loockerman Mansion. Richard Loockerman loved a good party, and during his time the wine cellar was likely well stocked with wine and spirits. Alcohol comprised about 20 percent of wealthy early Marylanders’ food budget, while the poor allotted significantly more. Drinks included locally made cider, mead, and beer, fruit wine, distilled spirits and punch, along with imported French wines and Madeira.

If you were a dinner guest you may have seen a device like this English-made solid mahogany bottle carrier, also known as a butler’s wine tray. Museum staff and docents affectionately call this piece the original six-pack. This helpful carrier allowed for servants to transport bottles easily from the cellar up to the dining room. Census records show the Loockermans held five female enslaved servants in the Annapolis house, including Juliet and sisters Mary and Matilda Matthews. At Richard’s country plantation, Bennett’s Toulson, in Denton, Maryland he held more enslaved individuals both male and female. As there were no male enslaved servants at the Annapolis mansion, it is likely that Richard selected the wine himself, as this was designated as a masculine task in the period and generally carried out by a manservant. An 1821 painting by Henry Sargent called The Dinner Party, now at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, depicts a comparable wine carrier and a group of gentlemen socializing, similar to a gathering Richard Loockerman may have hosted in the house.

The mahogany bottle carrier was carved to accommodate the neck of the bottle and ensure the bottle would stay in place, preventing sediment from mixing back into the wine. This item would have been a staple in the early 19th century dining room of wealthy families. Bottles were shaped differently than those you see on the shelves of today’s liquor stores. In the 17th century bottles were round and squat, known as the “shaft and globe” and “onion bottles”, but by the end of the 18th century the bottles became taller and more cylindrical, almost similar to modern day wine bottles. To learn more about this topic check out Winterthur Museum’s online exhibition Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition.

This rare bottle carrier was donated in 1966 by John Gilman D’Arcy Paul (1887-1972). Paul was a renaissance man serving as a diplomat, editor, and preservationist. He was a patron of the arts and was a trustee of Johns Hopkins University, Peabody Institute, the Peale Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Maryland Historical Society. His country estate, known as the Land of Promise, was later incorporated as part of the Susquehanna State Park, due to his influence. His historic home on that land is now part of the Steppingstone Farm Museum in Havre De Grace, Maryland, which is open to the public.


By Rachel Lovett, Curator

Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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