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Tankard 1864

Silver, niello | 12.5 x 12.0 x 7.8 cm (whole object) | RCIN 46911

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  • The tankard, which stands on three small bun feet, is decorated in a niello chequer pattern with borders of angular Greek key-like pattern and a cushion-shaped lid. The body has a roundel on one side with an inscription and a roundel on the lid.

    The technique of niello, although known in Russia in the 16th century, was especially influenced by a group of Greek jewellers who came to Moscow in the 1660s from Constantinople to teach the art to the goldsmiths working in the Kremlin workshops. Moscow remained the hub of the technique which never spread to, for example, St Petersburg. The decorative vocabulary reproduced in niello tended towards either 'Turkish' style patterns – essentially drawn from Islamic prototypes of scrolling foliage, plants and birds - or, in the 18th century, towards pictorial figure groups against a silver or gilt ground. The latter developed in the 19th century to images of Moscow landmarks or specific historical events. The fascination with creating trompe l'oeil surfaces in silver also translated to niello, and wares resembling items created from tree bark or with the grain of sawn wood were also produced. Simple geometric patterns of the type found on this tankard were less common and were usually used for borders rather than overall decoration.

    This tankard may be the work of the firm of Gustav Klingert, a workshop founded in Moscow in 1865. The business specialised in enamel wares but did produce items in niello as well. A number of their works of art have geometric or chequer pattern borders and items with Greek key motifs were also produced.

    Struck with city mark of Moscow (1864), fineness mark (84 zolotniki), and assayer's mark; lid, side and handle all struck with assayer's mark; side engraved, From / Mother dear; base with scratch marks, A and No 7.


    Acquired by Queen Alexandra when Princess of Wales; presented to King George V on his birthday, 3 June 1921.

  • Medium and techniques

    Silver, niello


    12.5 x 12.0 x 7.8 cm (whole object)

    327.4 g (Weight) (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    Moscow [Russia]