An English turned lignum vitae wood mortar and pestle

An English turned lignum vitae wood mortar and pestle

1600 to 1700 England

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An English turned lignum vitae wood mortar and pestle
Mid 17th CENTURY

Mortar: 22.5cm high x 23cm wide
Pestle: 43cm

Provenance: Estate of Lord Norton, Fillougly Hall, Warwickshire.
Lignum Vitae was first brought to Europe from the West Indies and

Central America in about 1515. Its introduction at that time was

medicinal as it was thought to cure venereal disease. Lignum sawdust

was mixed with water and fed to sufferers as a form of porridge.

It is an extremely hard and dense heavy wood. In 1609 a ton was ordered

but all that the purchaser received was approximately 25 cubic feet of

Lignum Vitae.

The first reference to its use in turnery according to Pinto occurs in

1605: '2 Paire of black Lignum vitae bowlles'. In 1660 Samuel Pepys

wrote in his diary on November 21st 'This morning my cozen Thomas Pepys

the turner sent me a cup of Lignum Vitae for a token'. Thomas Pepys was

a Freeman of the Company of Turners.

It was natural for a turner to think of making drinking vessels and

mortars and pestles of Lignum as it is so hardwearing, impermeable to

liquids and has the added selling point that the curative qualities of

the wood supposedly passed into the drink or mixture compounded in the

vessels. Thus Lignum Vitae because the wood for drinking bowls, mortars

and pestles, loving cups etc in Stuart England.
Height 22.50 cm (8.86 inches)
Width 23.00 cm (9.06 inches)
Lignum Vitae
Finch & Co

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