Smoking, drinking and the British sweet tooth

Decanter label, rum

Probably made in Battersea, London, 1753-1770
Copper, enamelled and painted

Object number 1958.472
Bequeathed by Harold Raby, 1958

See this object at Manchester Art Gallery This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Decanter label, rum

Rum is made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice. It was first produced on Caribbean plantations in the 1600s, by enslaved workers who discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, could be fermented into alcohol. In 1655, when the British navy captured the island of Jamaica, the sailors' daily drink ration was changed from French brandy to rum and it has been famously associated with the navy ever since.

Rum quickly became a popular drink in Europe and the Americas. The increased demand for molasses to produce it, along with the growing appetite for sugar during the 1700s, was instrumental in the growth of the plantations and the expansion of the transatlantic slave trade that supplied their workforce.

This delicately painted enamel rum label would have been placed around the neck of a decanter. It was given to Manchester Art Gallery in 1958 by Harold Raby, a Manchester bank manager who was an avid collector of enamel objects from the 1700s.

This information was provided by curators from Manchester Art Gallery.