Engraved silver spirit flask, by unknown maker, about 1690
Silver spirit flasks of this date are rare. A cup fits closely around the lower body and can be detached for use. The flask has an inner stopper which can be removed by using the finial on the lid of the flask to unscrew it.
The flask is engraved with the arms and monogram of Charles, 1st Duke of St Albans (1670-1726), the illegitimate son of Nell Gwyn and Charles II. When the king rebuked his mistress for calling their six-year-old son a bastard, she very reasonably replied 'Your majesty has given me no other name by which I may call him'. Charles was given the name Beauclerk, becoming Duke of St Albans in 1684. As an item for personal use, the flask may have accompanied him on his military campaigns in the Netherlands and Flanders.
Presented by the Friends of the V&A in honour of the Whiteley Trust