Bottle Case with Original Bottles
Bottle cases – often called “gin cases” or “brandy cases” in the period – were lockable box-on-stands that held a matched set of bottles. According to tradition, this example was originally owned by William Byrd III (1728-1777) of Westover Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. It is one of very few pre-Revolution Virginia bottle cases known, and is also exceptional in the survival of its original set of bottles. The matched set of bottles chosen for the case determined the arrangement of its internal dividers. In 1784 the cabinetmaker John Shaw (1745-1829) of Annapolis, Maryland, wrote to a client that he should, “send to the glass man about the bottles as I expect to finish the table very soon,” something Shaw was unable to do without the final measurements for the bottles.