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Pineapple stand is a clear winner; DON RODGERS.

Byline: BARGAIN HUNTER

There's not much point me asking you to guess what this beautiful piece of cut glass was used for as I've rather given the game away in the picture: it's a pineapple stand.

These days, when you can buy pineapples for a pittance at any supermarket, it may be difficult to imagine the elevated status afforded to the pineapple in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A method for successfully cultivating pineapples in Britain was first developed in the 18th century.

Young pineapple plants were grown in special frames in pits filled with pebbles, manure and tanner's bark.

Tanner's bark, which was bark from an oak tree soaked in water and used for tanning leather, fermented slowly, providing, along with the manure, a constant temperature of 25-30 degrees.

Once the plants were large enough, they were transferred to a heated glasshouse to be grown on.

Altogether it took three years of constant care to grow the pineapple to a size where it would fruit.

This meant that only the wealthiest people in Georgian Britain could afford pineapples; as a consequence, they were given pride of place on the table, displayed for all to see on special stands like the one shown here.

Hosts with pretensions to grandeur, but lacking the means, were able to hire pineapples, which would do the rounds of dinner parties until they began to rot.

As the pineapple became a symbol both of wealth and hospitality, pineapple-shaped ceramics began to appear, produced by manufacturers like Wedgwood, along with other pineapple artefacts, such as pineapple jelly moulds.

Pineapple stands are rare and sought-after.

This one is about 200 years old, dating to the Regency period.

I bought it at the most recent antiques fair held in the National Botanic Garden of Wales from a stand in the great glasshouse - a most appropriate place to discover such an object.

It was described as a 'cut glass bowl' and was displayed wide end up.

In fact, I'm convinced that stands this shape were always intended to be used either way up, according to whether you wanted to display a pineapple on its own or surrounded by other fruit.

Although cut glass isn't the flavour of the month with many collectors, pineapple stands always command high prices because of their rarity.

Porcelain pineapple stands are particularly rare and can sell for thousands of pounds.

A glass stand like this one is worth PS200-PS250 all day long. It cost PS8 at the antiques fair.

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Cut glass antique pineapple stands can fetch high prices
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 8, 2014
Words:426
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