French Tin Measures
This attractive set of measuring vessels originates from France and likely dates to the 19th century. Constructed of pewter, each cup features decorative banding at the base, middle, and lip, and sturdy squared handles. On the largest vessel, the quantity of “Litre” remains clearly legible, above which is a stamp of an address in Paris. These stamps were common on measuring vessels used in a commercial capacity which required inspection by officials. Marking measures to verify their capacity became legal around 1835, particularly in apothecary and pharmacy settings where inspections were required for safety and accuracy. Some surviving measures feature multiple stamps indicating that they would have been calibrated regularly. In earlier centuries, stamps would indicate the town or city where the measures were created, and often included heraldic symbols as advertisements for the quality of the maker’s work. Due to its strength and usefulness as a material, pewter was largely and internationally traded with many pieces travelling from France to North America after the French Revolution (1789–1799), though these were often unmarked and so are more difficult to trace. While such sets of measuring vessels are now non-functional, they nevertheless offer a fantastic decorative addition to any space.
At this time in history the 19th century in France, known as the “Long 19th century,” consisted of much tumult, change, and development. At the turn of the century, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) was governing France, and would declare himself as Emperor before being defeated and exiled in 1814. The year 1848, also known as the “Year of Revolutions” saw the establishment of the Second Empire, and following the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) came the Third Republic with France’s defeat. Amidst changing systems of leadership and class structure, developments in art, architecture, and technology were plentiful during this period.