When you look closely into antiques you often discover that what at first appear to be coincidences are actually connections. I bet I’m the only person in the world who knows the connection between these two antiques. Now you can join my exclusive club.
Bowl and Salt
The brass bowl is Dutch or Germanic, late medieval: the treen salt is English, c. 1700, but the connection between them wasn’t formed until 1772 and it wasn’t discovered until 2018 when I acquired both pieces. Clever me!
The salt is inscribed on the bottom “Cooper Inn London,” probably for the Coopers Arms (1638) in Covent Garden. In 1772 the inn changed its name to the Lamb and Flag. Here it is. Today, you could, if you so desired, stick the salt into your pocket and have a pint of beer in the very pub where it served customers some 300 years ago, and presumably, to the innkeeper’s delight, made them more thirsty. It’s not often you can do something like that.
Now, here’s the connection: the medieval bowl is decorated with a lamb and flag. The symbol of the Lamb and Flag has a long history: the lamb is the Agnus Dei from the Book of Revelation, the lamb of God who sacrificed himself for our sins (depicted in the bowl with blood pouring from the spear wound into a communion chalice.) The flag stands for the Resurrection – at least, originally it does, and on this bowl it does. But take that with a pinch of salt.
Now Thoroughly English
The English are good at anglicizing everything they want to, and they quickly anglicized the flag, giving it the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. Here it is in a medieval stained glass window. The Lamb and Flag then came to symbolize the Crusades where the brave English knights (the Flag) fought to reclaim the Holy Land (the Lamb) from the infidels.
As a common pub name, The Lamb and Flag now refers more to medieval English heroics than to early Christianity. We’ll drink to that.