Quaich - Encyclopedia

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QUAICH, or QUAIGH, a form of Scottish drinking vessel. The word is an adaptation of the Gaelic cuach, cup, bowl; cf. Welsh cawg, and is usually referred to the Gr. eaibcos, icaurca, through Lat. caucus. In the 18th century it is sometimes spelled "quaff," and a connexion has been suggested with "quaff," to drink with a large or at a single draught; the New English Dictionary, however, considers this doubtful. The "quaich" was doubtless inspired by the low silver bowls with two flat handles, frequently used as bleeding vessels in England and Holland in the 17th century. The earliest quaichs were made of a solid block of wood, or of small staves of wood, often of different colours, supported by hoops, like barrels. They are generally fitted with two, and, more rarely, three short projecting handles. In addition to wood, they are made of stone, brass, pewter, horn, and of silver. The latter were often engraved with lines and bands in imitation of the staves and hoops of the wooden quaichs. The origin of these vessels in Scotland is traced to the Highlands; it was not until the end of the 17th century that they became popular in such large centres as Edinburgh and Glasgow. The silversmiths of such local gilds as Inverness and Perth frequently mounted them in silver, as may be seen from the hall-marks on the existing examples. They are found, of silver and pewter, in use as communion cups in various parts of Scotland; four, with the Edinburgh hallmark for 1722, belong to Ayr parish church; and a large one with the same hall-mark for1663-1684is used as an alms-dish at Alvah, Banffshire. The loving cup at Donaldson's hospital, Edinburgh, is a large silver quaich, with the Edinburgh stamp for 1724, which belonged to the founder of that hospital. The finest collection of these vessels is in the possession of the marquess of Breadalbane. (E. A. J.)

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