I suppose it would be pertinent to start our maiden tankard blog post off with a brief history of the tankard.
Perhaps AC Silver describe it most succintly with their explanation of the Tankard's origins:
'A tankard may be described as a large one-handled drinking vessel, commonly made of pewter, silver or glass; the earliest models being fitted with lids. Mugs may also be described as one-handled, cylindrical drinking vessels, primarily made of pewter or silver, but latterly ceramic. Mugs are not fitted with lids. Originally, in Neolithic times, mugs would have been crafted in leather. By the 1400’s, mugs were made of wood or pewter. Silver pieces however remained the prerogative of the nobility. By the early 1500’s laws were passed in Europe stating that mugs (and containers used for food) should be covered to protect the contents from contamination from flies.
Lidded tankards also offered protection in inns and taverns where spitting was a frequent occurrence! In Germany, a form of lidded tankard known as a ‘stein’ (steinzeugkrug) made of decorated stoneware was produced in the 1400’s. With the passing of time, steins were subsequently crafted in pewter, silver, glass and by the 1600’s faience – the European equivalent to China’s porcelain.
Silver tankards existed in the middle of the 16th century. They commonly had a tapering cylindrical form, scroll handles and hinged covers. By the 18th century, little changed, although a slight variation in shape included the baluster form.'
Wow, who knew tankards had such continental origins! Something I hope to be exploring in future posts is some of these wonderful old designs that come from all over, even as far back as the middle east (though wether or not the engaged in the same ale habits is a different matter altogether!)
Back to the present however, and you can buy NEW Pewter Tankards from Tankardstore.com, where they have a fantastic range of over 100, with engraving available.