The taste for lacquer and lacquered wares emerged in England during the reign of Charles II - who acquired Chinese lacquered cabinets for his own collections and renewed the charter of the East India Company in 1672. The fashion was promoted by John Stalker and George Parker who published A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing in 1688. Japanned metal wares were first made in Pontypool, by a process invented and developed by Thomas and Edward Allgood in the late 17th Century, and while the technique was also exploited in the nearby town of Usk, and later in the West Midlands, the use of red pigment to create an effect in imitation of tortoiseshell was characteristic of Pontypool.
This dining-table monteith (verrière) of japanned metal depicts trompe l'oeil lacquer of golden landscapes on a 'turtle-shell' ground and relates to contemporary sideboard-table cisterns for wine-bottles such as the 17th century japanned brass cistern at Ham House, Surrey. This form of iced-water urn, intended to hold glass-stems in its scalloped rim, is said to have been introduced in the 1680's by Monsieur Monteigh (or Monteith), which gave rise to the couplet quoted in 1707 in King's Art of Cookery,: 'New things produce new words and so Monteith, Has by one vessel saved himself from death' (G.E. Lee, Monteith Bowls, London, 1978).