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The Original Swiss Miss

The craze for hot chocolate developed across Europe in the 17th century and continues today. Upon the marriage of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria in 1615, the queen brought her love of chocolate to France and it became fashionable at court. The dining traditions during this period were extravagant for the well-to-do, and as a result the chocolatière, or chocolate pot, was born.

Hot chocolate was considered an indulgence and was expensive. To highlight the ritual of consumption, chocolate pots were often made from fine silver or porcelain. Preparing hot chocolate required melting ground cacao beans in liquid and adding milk, sugar and sometimes spices according to taste before frothing. The characteristics of the pot include a short spout, a swivel finial to allow for a frothing stick called a molinet, and a side handle for pouring. The bespoke nature of the pots often reflected the aesthetic tastes of their countries of origin.

The desire for hot chocolate continued to remain popular as it spread to a larger audience in the 19th century. In Vienna, chocolate became inseparable from daily life, perhaps an ancestral reflection of Anne of Austria’s original enthusiasm for the drink. Chocolate houses sprang up alongside coffee houses and when on a journey traveling chocolate pots were brought along. The elite traveler might want to enjoy a restorative warm beverage at a moment’s notice, so naturally the small pots were often part of a nécessaire de voyage along with their toiletries. The traveling chocolate pot incorporated a stand and spirit burner for heating chocolate on the go. An example of this type of accessory can be found in our upcoming Silver Sale at Stair in Lot 198.  This petite chocolate pot is from the 19th century and made from fine silver which was an elegant solution for conducting heat to the chocolate. The design displays a high level of craftsmanship and detail.

The love for hot chocolate continues today with modern iterations that continue to evolve. Many childhood memories of holidays and cold weather center around a frothy cup of coco with marshmallows. Regardless of how hot chocolate is prepared or consumed, we can be sure the comforting properties will be enjoyed for centuries to come. 

Time & Location

Fine European Furniture, Decorations and Fine Art
Thursday, October 21 at 11am

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