This exceptional, fine and impressive antique sterling silver nef* has been realistically modelled in the form of a ship.
The surface of the vessel is ornamented with impressive chased decoration replicating the details of the wooden panels, in addition to scrolling motifs.
The vessel of the ship is further embellished with a central panel depicting Neptune battling an opponent, under the inscription: 'Neptun'.
The hinged rudder to the stern of the ship has a textured finish and features impressive scrolling foliate decoration.
The jib sail is embellished with a bright cut engraved shield shaped coat of arms accented with scrolling leaf mantle.
The exceptional antique nef is further ornamented with impressive cast components including a central tent structure, twisted rope ladders, four crow's nests with scrolling ornamentation, five flags and an array of sterling silver sailor figures.
The silver nef is positioned upon four impressive cast, functional wheels ornamented with scrolling decoration.
The hallmarks struck to this exceptional antique silver nef include:
Maker's mark: ETB (Edwin Thompson Bryant)
Assay mark: Leopard head (London, England)
Silver quality/purity mark: Lion passant (sterling standard)
Date mark: Q (1891)
Additional marks: F (foreign manufacture mark), Hanau hallmarks
Such impressive examples of sterling silver nefs in such an exceptional condition are becoming increasingly difficult to locate.
* A nef is a dining table ornament typically used within western Europe, modelled in the form of a ship; the word nef derives from the French word used in the late 17th century for an ocean sailing ship. Ancient examples were used for drinking vessels and evolved to hold dining implements in the hollow hull - including cutlery, napkins and spices; upon grander events the hull could be utilised to hold wine and special condiments. The functional wheels of the nef allow the piece to be passed around the table, enabling guests to be severed in a more elaborate manner. Through time the functional nef lost favour, becoming a more substantial and imposing centrepiece than a part of the dining experience.
Read a brief history of antique silver centrepiece at AC Silver.