Julab, julap, julep….

I can’t help but admire the variety of designs of julep strainers that were manufactured over 100 years ago.  Size, shape of bowl and handle, cut-out design and pattern were varied.  A sampling is shown below.

Variety of Julep Strainers

Variety of Julep Strainers

I vaguely recall that the origin of the word “julep” went back centuries and referred to rose water.  I believe it was traced back to the Middle East or India and the original word was “julab”.  Searching the internet, I found “julap” mentioned in a 1770 book, “The Modern Practice of the London Hospitals”:

1770 "The Modern Practice of the London Hospitals"

1770 “The Modern Practice of the London Hospitals”

A “common julap” is mentioned in this book and was comprised of water, brandy and simple syrup.  There was no suggestion as to what this julap was used for…certainly it must be good for what ails you; perhaps the doctors imbibed in this version.  A little further down is “mint julap” which has mint water, conserve of roses and acid elixir of vitriol (a sulfate of any of various metals such as copper, iron or zinc).  This julap was definitely medicinal in nature and said to be good for the stomach.

1770 "The Modern Practice of the London Hospitals"

1770 “The Modern Practice of the London Hospitals” Continued

The next page had another recipe for Mint Julap which was attributed to Vide St. Thomas’s Hospital.  This julap had mint water, spirit of mint and simple syrup.  No mention of what this julap was used for.  But right above it is the “Hysteric Julap” with pennyroyal in it.  Pennyroyal is from the mint family.  It has a very strong scent and if memory serves me right, I believe it was used to rub on cats to ward off fleas (and possibly prevent hysteric cats).  

Another book which mentions “juleps” is the 1796 “Every Woman Her Own House-keeper”.  This, too, features medicinal julep recipes. The camphorated julep could also be used for “hysterical and other complaints”.  I guess there was a lot of hysteria going around in the 1700s.

1796 Every Woman Her Own House-keeper pg91

1796 Every Woman Her Own House-keeper

1796 "Every Woman Her Own House-keeper" Continued

1796 “Every Woman Her Own House-keeper” Continued

The next page was taken from the 1912, “An American Glossary”.  The word “julep” is about half way down.  What is interesting is that it states “The word itself is about five hundred years old”.  There are a few references on this page of people drinking juleps (the kind with liquor in it) for breakfast.  Now that’s an incentive to get out of bed….

1912 An American Glossary, Volume 1 pg 502

1912 An American Glossary, Volume 1 pg 502

Poems were even inspired by juleps…

1912 An American Glossary, Continued

1912 An American Glossary, Continued

The evidence shows that julabs, julaps and juleps go back for many centuries.  The strainers don’t have quite that long a history (at least as far as I know).  But they did come in handy once iced drinks appeared on the scene.  They were served with the drink to keep the ice (along with the mint, fruit, whatever) back from the imbiber’s mouth and teeth.

The strainer below is rather a rare one.  The bowl is extremely shallow.  It is shown next to a correspondending illustration on a page from the 1886 Meriden Britannia catalog.

1886 Meriden Britannia Clover Julep Strainer

1886 Meriden Britannia Clover Julep Strainer

The strainers shown below (and more) are available at my Etsy shop.

Julep Strainer Assortment

Julep Strainer Assortment


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7 Responses to Julab, julap, julep….

  1. KerryCan says:

    What a fascinating post! Mint julep is a favorite at our house but I had no idea it had such a venerable history! The old books are really fun to read–I love the American glossary and the 1838 entry about hailstorms and old Monongahelas! I don’t think I’ll mention all that breakfast imbibement to my husband, though . . .

  2. Tom Forsell says:

    Fascinating article. I always look forward to all of your posts! I have a question about Rockford Silverplate, I thought you might know. As you may know, I collect several Victorian silverplate patterns. One of those is Rockford Seven. Do you happen to know the code marks for their different qualities of silverplate? Some of them are marked with a “xxx” after the backstamp name. Does this signify the extra heavy plate version? I know in the Rodgers line, the XII signifies the heavy plate version. Each company had markings for their “regular plate” version, and markings for graduations of heavier plate. eg. 4, 6, 8, 12. Thanks for any help you can offer.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Hi, Tom! Thanks for your kind words.

      I would think that the “xxx” on your Rockford Seven pieces signifies triple plate, although I haven’t actually seen a list of their code marks. I see Rockford also had quadruple plate but it looks like that was mostly on hollowware.

      What I find interesting is that your Rockford Seven pattern, designed by Frederick Waterhouse, was assigned to Racine Silver Plate Co. when patented on March 28, 1882. Racine burned down on May 5, 1882. Racine moved to Rockford later in 1882 and became Rockford Silver Plate. Do you know if this pattern was ever manufactured with the Racine backstamp?

      • Tom Forsell says:

        Thank you for your response. I love reading each of your posts. Also, thank you for the additional information about Rockford “Seven” and Racine Silverplate Co.

        I looked all over the web to find the quality code system for Rockford, but could not find it. To answer your question about Racine, I looked thru my collection and didn’t find any that are marked “Racine Silverplate.” I have approx a set of 6 place settings (give or take a few pieces) and quite a few completer pieces. If there are some marked “Racine Silverplate” I don’t have any in my collection. Many of my pieces were obtained one piece at a time. So, if you can judge from this collection, I don’t think any was made by Racine S P, Co. Incidentally, I recently bought a silverplate tea set made by Racine S P, Co. I found it locally. It is their hollowware pattern 2269. I tried to do some research to see if I could add to the set. Also, this set is missing the sugar bowl lid. I only found one piece, on the web, in this pattern and it was marked “Racine.” I found it on Replacements.com (if you wish, you can view it on their website). I suspect that the molds were lost in the fire. Or, maybe by the time the Rockford plant was built, the styles had changed and they didn’t want to make any further pieces in that pattern.

        I don’t know if you have any interest in doing an article on backstamp quality codes. It would sure be helpful to me and I suspect for many other collectors as well. I know each company had their own code (or so it seems to me). I certainly don’t want you to go to a lot of work on my part. Only if you have an interest.

        What is interesting, to me, about Rockford “Seven”, is that it is almost identical to another pattern by Rodgers named “Eastlake.” I collect that pattern too. If you look at both pieces, you will see what I mean. Of course the “Eastlake” pattern has a “crown” at the end of the piece, but Rockford “Seven” does not. I suspect that there must have been some type of relationship between Meridan B Company and Rockford. This would make a lot of sense, as Meridan B geographically covered the Northeast, whereas Rockford covered the Midwest.

        Also, there is an interesting backstamp mark on many of my Rockford “Seven” pieces. At first I thought it was the mark of a department store or diner of some sort, but now I think it was added by the company. It is very elaborate and is on almost 90% of my pieces. Some of my pieces have monograms on the front and the “special mark” on the back. So, I gather it is not a department store or diner. Why would the mark be there and different monograms on the front? Here is a URL where the mark shows on the back of the item: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lot-of-6-Vintage-ROCKFORD-S-P-Co-XXX-Forks-7-1-4-/271956091338?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=qt43ZXRwYMmdf7PHG3vHyH%252BDSks%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

        Any thoughts about the mark? Reminds me of old department store marks.

        Lots of questions. I hope not so many as to seem impolite!


        Tom Forsell

      • queenofsienna says:

        Tom, the Eastlake pattern was designed by the same man who designed Rockford Seven…Frederick Waterhouse. The Eastlake patent dates to November 11, 1879 and was assigned to Hall, Elton.

        And that special mark on the back of your Rockford Seven pieces is “The Jewelers Crown Guild” mark. Rockford used this mark on flatware and a “J” crown symbol and “G” on hollowware. Rockford sold exclusively to jewelers.

        I do have some quality codes for certain manufacturers and am always looking for more. I think this might be a project for a snow day!

  3. Tom Forsell says:

    Thank you,

    This answers so much for me. Thank you, again for all of your help!

    Tom Forsell

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