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Casting bottle

Casting bottle

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1540-1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, chased, embossed and engraved, with applied shaped and punched wires

  • Museum number:

    451:1, 2-1865

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 1 []

Object Type
This casting bottle would have been used to hold a flower essence, typically rosewater, and to sprinkle it over the hands and body. Such bottles are occasionally known as 'sprinklers'.

History & Use
Casting bottles were luxury accessories that were used by members of the European court and aristocracy from the 15th century to the mid-17th, and they are known to have been given as New Year gifts at the court of Henry VIII. They became redundant after the introduction of musk and resin-based perfumes and the development of larger-scale perfume bottles forming part of a dressing-table set.

Casting bottles are generally found in the form of the traditional pilgrim flask, with a flattened body, a long neck and chains attached to the shoulders. At the forefront of European fashion, they are usually decorated in the very latest styles; this English example has the characteristic strapwork ornament derived from Flemish designs of the 1540s. The stopper and chains are later replacements.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1540-1550 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver, chased, embossed and engraved, with applied shaped and punched wires

Marks and inscriptions

Engraved with a later crest of an eagle's head


Height: 12 cm, Width: 6.7 cm maximum, Depth: 4.1 cm

Object history note

Made in England by an unidentified maker, using the mark of a cusped 'I'; the strapwork ornament may derive from a design by Balthazar Sylvius (born in Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, 1518, died in Antwerp, Belgium, 1580)

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This small bottle was designed to hold perfumed water. Casting bottles were luxury accessories for the fashion- conscious aristocracy, and their decoration often reflected the latest European trends. They are now exceptionally rare. The ornament on this bottle is a very early example of strapwork, consisting of flattened, overlapping bands which resemble strips of leather. [27/03/2003]
Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

Casting bottle
About 1540–50

This small bottle, designed to hold perfumed water, was a luxurious accessory for the fashion-conscious courtier. The design was inspired by the work of the
Antwerp goldsmith Balthasar Sylvius. It bears a later English owner’s heraldic eagle crest.

Silver, chased, embossed and engraved, with applied shaped
and punched wire
V&A 451-1865 []




Metalwork Collection

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