Peg tankard, Hans Nieman the Elder

Peg tankard, Hans Nieman the Elder

Peg tankard
Hans Nieman the Elder (born about 1630, working 1679-1721)
Drammen, Norway
About 1680
Engraved silver and parcel gilt
Museum no. M.488-1910

This tankard is exquisitely engraved with apple trees, tulips, roses, exotic birds and the figures of a man and a young child. Decoration inspired by botanical drawings was very popular throughout Europe in the late 17th century. Tankards like this were marked inside with a series of pegs and would have been filled with wine or beer and passed around, each person having to drink until the next peg was showing.

Given the size of the tankard and each measure, it would have made it a challenge to stay sober. It might have been a christening present for Olle Jensson Bruun, the name inscribed on it.  The origin of the phrase 'to take someone down a peg' apparently comes from peg tankards, in other words rudely drinking beyond one's measure.