Mar 10, 2011 - Sale 2239

Sale 2239 - Lot 134

Price Realized: $ 240
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 300 - $ 400
GIN FOR SLAVES & IVORY (AFRICA--TRADE.) Gin bottle from the African Trading Company. Rectangular, blown deep olive-green glass, 9-3/4 inches high by 2-1/2 inches at the widest point; "African T. Co. Ltd" on one side, with an embossed flag with "A.F.T.C" within a wreath on another; efflorescence to the surface; bubbles and irregularities consistent with glass of this era. (England: African Trading Co. Ltd, circa 1860s-1870s)

Additional Details

Historically, Africans only consumed low-alcohol beverages like palm wine until contact with the West in the 16th century, when Europeans began trading tobacco, ironware, guns and distilled alcohol for slaves and ivory. At first this meant rum or brandy, a dash of which was often used to "seal the deal." But early in the 19th century, gin imports overtook rum imports all along the Western Coast of Africa. The squarish design of the classic Dutch gin bottle, as opposed to the round rum or brandy bottle leant itself to packing in cases, and the spicy herb-infused flavor seemed to appeal to the African tastebuds. The present bottle was obtained by a collector with a number of others from a "dig" in Ghana a few years ago. It is an example of an early mass-produced "blown into a mold" bottle, common in the last half of the 19th century.