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A Treasure Trove of Rare Prohibition-Era Barware Is Coming to Auction

Because we could all do with a penguin-shaped cocktail shaker.

Derby Silver Company Golf Cocktail Set Sotheby's

Prohibition may be long gone, but its legacy lives on. In fact, everything from the Tom Collins you sip to the silver cocktail shaker you flip came, ironically, from the era of not drinking. To celebrate the centenary of this influential period, Sotheby’s is auctioning off a spate of vintage barware and fine silver accessories that epitomize the era.

The auction house partnered with Alan Bedwell, owner of vintage accessories gallery Foundwell, to curate the selection of rare and ornate pieces that showcase the ingenuity and style of the time. This was loud, decorative barware that people felt proud to show off in their home, rather than hide away in a cabinet.

“America experienced a great surge of interest in novelty barware towards the end of Prohibition and the years following it,” Bedwell said in a press release. “One hundred years later, this fascination and interest in novelty barware is experiencing a resurgence, with the current trend of the at-home bar—everyone wants to build their own home bar cart, curated with personal touches and unique tools and glasses.”

Derby Silver Company Golf Cocktail Set

Derby Silver Company Golf Cocktail Set  Sotheby's

Indeed, the sale includes designs that would look at home on any modern drinks trolley. The pièce de résistance is a golf-themed cocktail set (above) from 1926 which is expected to fetch up to $7,500. Comprised of a pitcher and six matching cups, the set was created by George Barry and manufactured by the storied Derby Silver Company during the height of Prohibition. A watershed moment for barware, the piece is considered to be the first figural cocktail shaker ever made and may have been intended to fool authorities.

Hukin & Heath Decanters

Hukin & Heath Decanters  Sotheby's


Other highlights include a pair of coveted cut-glass decanters made in the 1920s by renowned English silversmiths Hukin & Heath (top estimate: $7,000), a silver-plated Napier penguin-form cocktail shaker from 1936, an exceptionally rare binocular-shaped spirits flask (top estimate: $1,200) from the ‘30s and a set of six silver heart-shaped cocktail spoons from the 1940s (top estimate: $800).

The 100 Years—Prohibition in America online auction will be open for bidding from May 7 to May 21, 2020. You can view the full catalog online here. Best clear some space in your drinks trolley now.

Check out more photos of the barware below:

Napier Penguin Cocktail Shaker

Napier Penguin Cocktail Shaker  Sotheby's

James Dixon Sons Binocular Double Spirit Flask

James Dixon Sons Binocular Double Spirit Flask  Sotheby's

Heart-shaped cocktail spoons

Heart-shaped Cocktail Spoons  Sotheby's

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