English, c. 1800
G10.1 Donated by Mrs. Miles White in 1951
A look into the more spirited history of Maryland’s past leads us to an examination of this English decanter. Made in a rare pint size, this piece features a glass ring-necked mallet form, which appears frequently in the late 18th century. The mushroom-shaped stopper is especially eye-pleasing. Decanters like this one would have graced the tables of the Maryland elite, including the Loockerman family who lived in the Hammond-Harwood House in the early 19th century. Wine would have been stored in the cellar located below the main block and a vessel like this would have been used to decant some of the evening’s wine.
Most rooms were multi-purpose in the 18th century; furniture would be pushed against the walls at night and then brought to the center of the room as needed. By the time this house was built in 1774, larger homes had one room specifically designated for eating dinner, the most formal meal of the day. Dining rooms took on particular importance for entertaining guests. The room, the dishes, the flatware, and all of the other items used for dining, as well as the food itself, were designed to impress. Dining in the late 18th and early 19th century was an involved process that could take several hours. Conversation was especially important, and it was expected that both guests and hosts would converse at length. Possessing a charming and witty disposition went a long way in gaining the respect and admiration of those in attendance.
Alcohol comprised about 20% of the food budget for wealthy early Marylanders. Drinks included locally made cider, mead, and beer, fruit wine, distilled spirits and punch, along with imported French wines and Madeira. Benjamin Fordham from England opened the first commercial brewery in Annapolis around 1703 on the grounds of what would become the Hammond-Harwood House property in the 1770s. His enterprise is the inspiration for the current Fordham and Dominion Brewing Company.