Serpentine Wedding Tankard with Arms of Alliance, Germany, 1617. Estimate 20 000 €. Unsold. Photo Auctionata
This German wedding tankard made from Saxon serpentine is dated 1617 and presents a beautiful cover with chased floral and ornamental medallions and a sculpted thumb rest in the form of a fantasy figure with a fishtail. An alliance crest inside the cover depicts a jumping horse and a bird in a wreath of leaves and the abbreviation ‘MSHBF’ in addition to the date. The tankard has a cylindrical body with a slight conical form and a thin wall. Two gilt brass bands with an etched needle décor run all round the body. The curved ear handle with a bead molding and the lancet leaves frieze made of gilt brass at the foot are of particular note.
The tankard is in good condition, showing only minor wear. The total height, including the cover, is 21 cm.
The serpentine was widely used in Europe before the widespread introduction of porcelain at the end of the 18th century due to its good processability on the lathe. In Zöblitz, the extraction of serpentine was operated since the 15th century. This is documented by the inventory of the Saxon silver chamber at the end of the 15th century, mentioning fork handles of serpentine. In the 16th century, Augustus of Saxony possessed equipment from serpentine in his famous cabinet of curiosities. The mounts were mostly made of silver, tin, copper and brass, and were manufactured at the place of the buyer of the serpentine item, whereas dealer invoices as well as city and maker’s marks often give clues to the export routes, which took the Saxon serpentine throughout Europe. (cko)