Gorham Antique Sterling Silver Covered Figural Ale/Wine Tankard, Providence, RI, 1873

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Don't you just love a multi-purpose tankard? This large tankard is amazing and extremely rare. The flared base is decorated with a classical band of winged cherubs riding hippocampi (the sea horses Poseidon used for his chariot) along with dolphins against a stippled background.

One side of the body is engraved with a magnificent display of grapevine while the opposite side is equally attractive displaying hops - hence the dual purpose of the tankard, which Gorham records as both a wine and ale tankard!

A 'C'-shaped handle has a bold thumb-piece and wrapped wire accents. Atop the domed cover, which is engraved with wheat, is an attached bacchanalian figure sitting upon a cask resting on a leaf. This jovial figure is proposing a toast and is executed with lovely details.

This magnificent tankard incorporates partial gilding for additional artistic value. As you can see from the pictures, this gilding is used on the bacchanal's cup, the leaf, the straps on the cask, and the borders and figures of the classical design.

This magnificent tankard is marked with Gorham's trademark and /STERLING/ 10' and the 'F' date mark for 1873. It is also lightly scratched underneath with the Boston retailer 'Palmer / Bachelder & Co/ 200 Wash. St.' It measures 6 inches across the handle by 9.75 inches high and weighs 25.35 troy ounces. We believe there was a monogram on the front which at some point was beautifully removed. We usually shy away from removals but this piece was too special to pass up. Other than that and some wear to the gilding, the tankard is in excellent condition.

According to the Cost Records at The John Hay Library Gorham Archives, this tankard cost Gorham $86.34 to make and would have had a higher price for retail.   

Here is an archival photograph of an undecorated 'Ale or Wine Tankard' of the same model:  

Image courtesy of the Gorham Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University.