Antique German Silver Neff Sailing Ship

Date: 1913

Maker: Berthold Muller

Country: Germany

Stock Number: 8599

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A superb sterling silver galleon ship, known as a Nef, intricately modelled with 2 tall masts having multi section sails and long boom, manned crows nests, flags and rigging. Each mast has a man climbing up a tall ladder. On the upper deck the helmsman is steering the ship while the other sailors carry out their duties. A central staircase connects the two decks. Around the edge is a decorative pierced gallery and below this, the port holes with their cannons ready for battle.

The top section of the Neff can be removed from the hull. The hull of the ship is realistically engraved with timber effect planks and graining; the interior is gilded, the rudder is in the form of a dolphin, the anchor is attached by a chain. The ship has 10 cannons and stands on four decorative wheels.

Excellent large size and weight.

Weight 3350 grams, 107 troy ounces.

Height 67 cms. Spread 62 cms. The top of the hull measures - length 31.5cm x width 14.3 cm (at the widest point).

The nef has multiple silver stamps including London import marks, on the bottom edge of the top section and the body of the hull, for 1913.

Importer Berthold Muller.

Provenance: Formerly the property of Geoffrey Annesley Harmsworth, 3rd Baronet, born 1904, died 1980. Educated at Harrow School, he became a war correspondent during World War 2 and later squadron leader in the RAF. Lived in London at 8 Stretton Street, became a director of the Daily Mail, Chairman of Harmsworth Press and Field Magazine.

Literature: A 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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