Sealed examples are particularly hard to find for sale and this example, offered by BBR as part of the 21st UK Summer National advertising and bottle fair at Elsecar, South Yorkshire on July 2-3, was in particularly fine condition.
A relatively small size at 8½in (22cm) high and dated to c.1665-70, it was dug out from the mud of a moated manor house close to the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border in the 1987. Analysis of similar fragments from the same source suggest they were made locally - perhaps at the wood-fired glasshouses at Blower Park, Knowle Wood and Bishops Wood worked by the migrant French glassmaking families of Tyzack, Henzy and Tittery.
Shaft and globes were utilitarian vessels but (dating exactly to the era of Samuel Pepys's famous diary accounts of tavern drinking and the sealing of his own bottles) such vessels were used as table decanters and belonged only to prosperous taverns and wealthy individuals.
The original owner of this bottle with the letters RB stamped in mirror image (evidently the diecutter did not reverse the letter forms) could well have been Roger or Robert de Beck who lived near Uttoxeter.
Specialist Alan Blakeman called it the finest sealed bottle to be sold by BBR for 30 years and there was speculation it could bring more than a recently dug shaft and globe bottle with handle sold by the firm at the equivalent event in 2008 for £21,000.
As it was, it fell just short selling to a UK dealer at £19,000 (plus 12% buyer's premium).
By Roland Arkell