A tankard is a type of drinkware that is somewhat cylindrical in shape and outfitted with various engravings, a handle and, sometimes, a lid. Tankards are generally used as beer mugs. They have been present since the time around 2000 years ago, which is proven by an ancient tankard that is unearthed in Wales. The name tankards came from the one of the earlier versions of this drinkware, a 13th century wooden vessel. Although the 2000-year-old piece of artifact excavated in Wales predates that by a huge timeframe, the ancient drinkware is still considered a premature invention compared to the medieval and renaissance tankards.
There are many types of tankards that are available today. Some of them are antiques that have come from medieval times, while others are modern. The rest of the tankards are aged somewhere in between. These drinkwares are classified mostly according to the material used to create them. For example, a tankard can be silver, pewter, glass, glass bottom, wooden or stainless steel. The availability of the materials also hints on the age of the tankard itself. A wooden tankard, as you may have guessed already, very likely has come from the Middle Ages. Stainless steel, which is not present during that time, makes it self-evident that the tankard is made in modern times.
People are rarely seen drinking in tankards nowadays. With the few exception of a few aficionados, collectors and traditionalists, people only use tankards as ornamentation in the house. In fact, some of the modern tankards that are sold today are nothing if not novelty items sold to enthusiasts out there.
Glass bottom tankards are more interesting than the rest. There are many different legends that are associated with this type of tankard. The first is that the glass underneath the drinkware is placed there so that the drinker may refuse the King’s shilling, by seeing a coin at the bottom of the glass. It has to do with an urban legend about conscription. Another interesting myth tells that the glass is for a drinker who got into a bar fight. The glass bottom should allow the drinker to see a punch coming. The drinker then evades the assault, apparently thanks to the glass bottom of the tankard. Another comic theory suggests that the glass bottom has to do with impairing the drinker’s judgment to tell if the drink is clear enough to drink.
The other types of tankards are classified according to the material used to make them, as said earlier. Silver tankards are undoubtedly very valuable. Gold tankards, while they do exist, are not very commonly used. Therefore, silver tankards are considered the most widely accepted valuable tankard. Next to silver is pewter, a metallic raw material that resembles the color and gloss of silver. Since it is not made of silver, pewter is less expensive and more commonly seen in pubs several hundreds of years ago.