British Museum guidebook, £3.50
Diameter: 5.800 cm
Gift of William Edkins
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Drinking glass with election inscription
England, AD 1754
Sir John Pole (around 1733-60) was a parliamentary candidate defeated by Lord George Carpenter in the 1754 election contest at Taunton, Somerset. The glass, engraved with the legend 'Sr. I: Pole for ever, 1754', was no doubt intended for Pole's supporters to drink his health in an alcoholic beverage supplied by the candidate himself.
Parliamentary election slogans and other populist sentiments were engraved or painted on glass, ceramics and enamels during the eighteenth century. This reflected not only a greater freedom of expression in society, but an increase in the growth of the trade which supplied such relatively inexpensive mementoes, tokens and novelties. Elections during the eighteenth century became more riotous, although few but the well off (males) were allowed to vote, but not in secret.
The production of these opaque twist-stems is a complex and skilful process requiring many years of apprenticeship.