Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog

Sheffield business helps spread Christmas spirit

Sheffield post, parcel and print specialist Mail Boxes Etc. helped spread a little Christmas spirit recently by shipping an unusual relic from the nation’s drinking past.

The magnificent cut-glass gin dispenser, sold at auction in November by Sheffield Auction Gallery, was recently collected, expertly packed and despatched to its new owner by Frank Bigley and his team at MBE Sheffield.  

Because they are made of glass, it’s rare to find one of these startling reminders of the Victorian and Edwardian eras intact today.  Said John Morgan, auctioneer at Sheffield Auction Gallery:  

“These huge glass containers could hold several gallons of gin.  All the barman had to do was turn the tap and the gin poured out.  It’s an interesting reminder of a time before the Weights and Measures Act formalised legal measures for dispensing alcohol.”

Known as ‘Mother’s Ruin’ because, thanks to its affordability, it became such a popular drink with the entire nation in the 1700s, gin has a chequered past.  These days, however, it is very fashionable – according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, sales of gin are expected to exceed £1bn in Britain this year.

Frank Bigley is pleased that the dispenser will go to a good home:  

“I can see it being a great talking point in someone’s office or perhaps on display in their kitchen.  It may even end up being the star of a few Christmas parties!”

Mail Boxes Etc. stores specialise in the collection, secure packing and worldwide shipping of antiques, collectables and fine art.  Frank and his team wrapped the gin dispenser in tissue paper to protect it, before packing it securely in a large box, to ensure that the lucky buyer received it in one piece.  

“We have a close working relationship with Sheffield Auction Gallery,” said Frank.  “They often recommend us to their buyers as a safe pair of hands for precious lots needing to be despatched around the UK or overseas.  We love dealing with fun items like this – it’s a challenge because the glass is so fragile, but it makes our job really interesting.”

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