Antique German Silver Neff Sailing Ship

Date: Circa 1900

Maker: B Neresheimer & Sohnes (1893), Later Ludwig Neresheimer & Co

Country: Germany

Stock Number: 7776

This is a superb solid silver galleon ship, known as a Nef), with a tall mast having multi section sails, a manned crows nest and rigging. The deck is beautifully modelled with people and equipment – to the rear the captain is steering the ship's wheel with a lantern behind him, and on the prow a sailor is standing next to the ships cannon, the anchor hangs below. Around the edge of the deck there is a pierced gallery decorated with cherubs and flowers.

The top section of the Neff can be removed from the hull. The hull of the ship is finely chased with cherubs and leaves, flowers and scrolls and the interior is gilded. The ship stands on four decorative wheels.

Weight 577 grams, 18.5 troy ounces. Height 24.5 cms. Spread 25 cms. Top of the hull measures 18 x 6 cms. The hull has a set of German hallmarks with maker's mark for Neresheimer. The bottom edge of the top section has the silver grade "13". Circa 1900.

Literature: The neff (originally spelt nef) is an ornamental model ship made specially for the dinner table. They are usually quite elaborate with masts, sails, rigging and various figures on board. Early examples (13th-16th century) were drinking cups or receptacles for dining implements. Nefs originated from the continent and were used in France, Germany, Spain and Italy but most nefs found today were made in Germany at the end of the 19th century.
Traditionally the dining table nef was made in two sections and the top half was removable so that the hollow hull could be used to contain the spoon, knife, napkin, spices of the host. When the use of great dining halls waned, the hull was fashioned to hold wine, sweetmeats or a variety of special condiments.

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