These Coded Wine Glasses Were Used for Treasonous Toasts

Met wine glass

Sounds like the Jacobites turned toasting into quite a deadly game back in the day. And I thought giving the toast at my sister’s wedding was nerve wracking! At least I wasn’t afraid for my life (although the hangover the next day wasn’t my favorite feeling). Check out this fun (yet sorta scary) bit of history from Gastro Obscura.

This glass has a secret. It’s encoded in the images inscribed around the bowl: a blazing star, an oak leaf, a rose blossom, and two delicate buds sprouting from a thorny stem. They may seem like mere decoration, but to the right eyes, they were a message, and a dangerous one at that. The original owners of this glass must have been careful who they let see it. In England, circa 1745, toasting with it could constitute treason.

Taken together, the rose, oak leaf, and star tell a story of loyalty to a banished king, James II of England. The blooming rose stands for James’s son and heir (known to his enemies as the “Old Pretender”); the oak leaf is a symbol of the House of Stuart, James’s family line; and the star reflects the hope that the Stuart family will once more rise to glory.

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