Glass Epergne

Contributed by Museum of Edinburgh

An epergne is a decorative centrepiece for the dining table. Epergnes usually have a central bowl from which spread brackets with smaller bowls or candle holders attached to the ends. They were designed to be both decorative and useful. The bowls would either be filled with flowers, nuts, sweets or fruit. An epergne would sit on the dining table throughout the courses of a meal. When it was time for desert, the sweets, nuts or fruit held in the bowls were all ready for the guests at the table.

This huge epergne is almost 1 metre high and is one of the most amazing pieces of Scottish glass cutting ever completed. It was made in Edinburgh by John Ford's Royal Holyrood Flint Glassworks.

The epergne was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne but was only finished in 1840, having taken 2 years for the foreman glasscutter, Richard Hunter, to complete its 40 separate pieces.

The epergne was exhibited at the Edinburgh International Exhibition in 1886, and was placed on the table at a dinner at Holyrood Palace for King George V in 1911.

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