A while ago I came across a William Rogers antique julep strainer that was unusual. The “bend” in the handle where it meets the bowl was reversed, or opposite to the way usually seen on julep strainers. The julep strainer is normally used with the bowl side down in the glass and this bend assists in holding the strainer in that position.
The strainers at either end are Wm. Rogers Anchor AA strainers. They both have a stylized (without stem) clover shape cut-out. One clover is slightly bigger than the other. And, interestingly enough, the strainer in the center is also an Anchor Wm. Rogers julep strainer (with a star cut-out). The backstamps on each vary slightly but all are Anchor Rogers marks.
You’ll note that the handles curve differently as well. In the photo above, the two strainers on the ends have handles that are slightly curved downward at the ends whereas the one in the middle is curving upward.
You’ll note the strainer with the star has the Wm. Rogers mark on the opposite side than the ones with the clover. The maker’s mark is commonly on the back side of the strainer, or the side not facing you when the strainer is in use. So the strainer in the center above was intended to be used with the bowl side down, which is the normal use. But, following that thread of thought, the other two must have been intended to be used with the bowl side up.
At first, when I just had one of these unusual strainers, I thought it was a fluke. It must have been a one-off…possibly a mistake. And then I found another. Hmmm. Now I have seen two more Anchor Rogers strainers manufactured the same way…all with the clover design. They were intentionally manufactured that way. The placement of the backstamp and curve of the handle tip prove that. This is the only manufacturer that I have come across who has made julep strainers with this design option.
UPDATE: I’ve reached the conclusion that there could be two reasons the reverse bend julep strainer was manufactured. One is for the ease of double straining. The reverse bend strainer design allows it to sit in the glass with the bowl side up, allowing the bartender to double strain his beverage as shown below.
The following picture shows that the holes in the strainer are different as well. The clover strainer has round holes and the star strainer has diamond shaped holes. Various companies manufactured this stylized clover reverse bend strainer with round holes.
My second thought was that the reverse bend strainers could be used as mustache guards. The placement of the strainer with the round side up in the bowl provides more room for the imbiber. It would be difficult for someone with a big handlebar mustache to sip from a glass with a strainer with the bowl side down. But a reverse bend strainer provides adequate room.
Different but not so unusual julep strainers indeed!
These two unusual strainers are available here at my Etsy shop: