Jack the Ripper: A 19thC Horn Beaker; ‘Fair Maid Beware Whitechapel 1888’

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Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1888
Diameter: 2.5”
Height: 4”

The tactile beaker or cup, of typical form, crafted entirely in horn, and primitively engraved with the words ‘fair maid beware whitechapel 1888’, surviving from late Victorian England.

The piece is in sound overall condition with some chips to the rim and nibbles to the base as photographed. The base shows some further engravings which are hard to decipher.

The Whitechapel murders were a series of brutal attacks on women in the Whitechapel district in the East End of London that occurred between 1888 and 1891. The prime suspect in the murders was the notorious serial killer called "Jack the Ripper", whose identity remains unknown. There are a large number of experts and enthusiasts on Jack the Ripper, Ripperologists, who put in a huge amount of time and research into trying to make sense of the killings and as such there are a number of opinions on the exact movements of the notorious killer.

Finding work in 1888 was extremely difficult for the residents of Whitechapel, feeding into the cycle of destitution and depravity. Whitechapel offered a breeding ground for crime and poor behavioural habits, including murder, prostitution and violence – and vicious circles like these were rarely broken in such poor districts. The streets were unimaginably dirty, fresh food was hard to come by, pollution and the smell of sewage hung in the air.

Though it is difficult to prove the engraving to this piece was executed in 1888 the lettering is dirty and soft to the touch, in keeping with it being of the same age as the beaker. It may have been made as a novelty tourist piece and sold to visitors keen on the mystery of the killings.

A very intriguing object indeed.
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