Historical 19th Century Engraved Deceptive Bowl Ale Glass c1850

£250.00 $324.00 Product Code: 2023102025

Technical Description

It's not very often you can identify a 19th century glass down to a specific person, and a specific place, at a moment in history.


A 19th century ale glass dating to c1850. It has a highly deceptive slice cut bowl with the words “Leftwich China Hall” engraved in very fine diamond point around the rim. Sits on an opposing baluster knop stem with slice cuts above a conical foot with a polished pontil.

Date & Origin

England, C1850


Excellent, no chips cracks or restoration.


Height: 14.1cm, Rim diameter:5.3cm,  Foot diameter:6.5cm

Historical Context

After considerable research, we can now say with some level of confidence that the glass belonged to a Mr Joseph Leftwich who ran The China Hall Tavern at 141 Lower Road, London in 1855.


We have included a link below which gives the full history of The China Hall from 1776 (although there was a pub on the grounds from 1719) all the way through to present day, which is a great read.


History of The China Hall Tavern


However, the short version is that in 1776 the pub was called The Green Man and the land leased by a Jonathan Oldfield who was a trader, dealing in tea and china (porcelain). On the land next to the pub he decided to open a wooden theatre called The China Hall which could hold up to 500 people.  It was very successful but only lasted a few years before burning down and it wasn’t until 1787 that it reopened as the China Hall Tavern.


Skip forward a good few years, and in 1855 we find an entry at The Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, for a case against a Daniel Donoghue who on the 9th Nov 1855 was found guilty of Coining Offences, specifically, for trying to pass counterfeit coin to a Mr Joseph Leftwich of The China Hall Tavern.


Old Bailey Records for Mr Joseph Leftwitch


So, the glass was used by Joseph Leftwitch at The China Hall in and around 1855, who had it engraved so that everyone knew it was his glass. It had a deceptive bowl, which holds approx. ½ that of a normal bowl its size, and when customer bought him a drink, or he pored himself a drink, he could use his deceptive glass and keep half its value in the till…and / or stay sober.


An amazing piece of history. Where the glass has been for the last 168 years is anyones guess…but eventually it found it way into a small but fine quality collection which we will be presenting over the next few weeks.

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