Five for Friday: The Art of Cocktail Shakers

A recent visit to the Dallas Museum of Art had me reeling: an entire exhibit devoted to nothing but the humble cocktail, or more precisely, the art behind the cocktail. In Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail, visitors are taken on a historical tour of nearly 60 items to explore the culture of cocktails and the various styles of muddlers, shakers and punch bowls used in the delivery of delicious drinks.  From the martini glass to the Boston Shaker, the exhibition is a fascinating look back at modern design.

Little did I know that Heritage Auctions also was curating a collection of vintage cocktail shakers that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the museum’s exhibition. At Heritage, however, you get to take the cocktail shakers home with you.

Here are a few favorite cocktail shaker picks from Heritage’s upcoming Fine & Decorative Arts, including Estates, Auction set for June 10.

1.  Johan Rohde for Meriden Co. Art Deco Silver-Plated and Bakelite Cocktail Shaker circa 1927

Johan Rohde’s take on the classic mixer looks more like a New York skyscraper than a cocktail shaker. The cherry-red Bakelite finial could easily could be mistaken for a building’s aircraft warning light. Estimated to sell for between $2,000 and $3,000, the 1927 shaker has been elevated to the rank of quintessential American Design with an honored spot in Yale University’s Art Gallery.

2.  An Emil A. Schuelke for Napier Silver-Plated Penguin Cocktail Shaker, circa 1936

Like its counterpart on display in Shaken, Stirred, Styled, Emil Schuelke’s Penguin Shaker from 1936 is a fun take on Art Deco design. The shaker’s articulated beak hides a strainer. Propped on webbed feet, it is estimated to sell for $1,500 to $2,000.

3.  Three Chromed and Glass Fire Extinguisher Cocktail Shakers, mid-20th century

Nothing brings out the giggles better than a finely shaken cocktail, unless you have your own collection of fire extinguisher-themed shakers. The tallest of this set stands nearly a foot tall. As is common with many shakers made around the 1950s, the tall shaker’s glass body is covered in drink recipes. A second shaker in the collection is actually musical and a third warns its owner to “Keep Available For Emergency.” The set of three is expected to bring $500 to $700.

4.  A Four-Piece Napier Chromed Cocktail Shaker Set, first half 20th century

Perhaps my favorite of all, this four-piece set is reminiscent of a 19th century tantalus. Each of the four shakers in the wooden base is fitted with a strainer. Each shaker is also fitted with an arrow and sports cocktail delineations on its lid, presumably to allow each guest to turn the arrow to the next drink on the evening’s lush list. The set is expected to sell for $500 to $700.

5.  A Hawkes Silver-Mounted, Acid-Etched, and Wheelcut Glass Cocktail Shaker: The 19th Hole, 20th century

Sporting an attractive woodland course and cabin motif, this shaker is a takeoff on the familiar tradition of grabbing a drink at the “19th hole” following a round of golf. The Sterling silver cap is designed perfectly to match the winding, acid-etched trail back to the clubhouse. Expect to pay between $500 to $700 for this beauty.

Written by: Eric Bradley

Posted by Eric Bradley

Public Relations Director

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