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John Lambe English Sterling Silver Barrel-Form Double Beaker, London 1782/83

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A rare and collectible form of Georgian English silver, this wonderful piece is in the form of a wine barrel which separates at the middle. These rare items were made in England during the late 18th century. The interior is gilded and it is later inscribed on one end, 'C.S.R./ from Elisabeth, June 1917 England.'

Peter Boughton, in theCatalogue of Silver in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester (p. 64) states this rare form is based on examples made in Augsburg and Nuremburg from the late 16th to late 18th centuries. During the late middle ages and renaissance, the offering and drinking of wine as a welcome or to finalize a business agreement was an important social custom. A drink would be shared over marriage agreements and payment of taxes (see Lorenz Seelig,Silver and Gold Courtly Splendour from Augsburg, p. 15).

It seems these customs had devolved somewhat by the time this double beaker was made. Colonial Williamsburg has an example of a 1767/68 double beaker inscribed 'Hob' and 'Nob'. 'Hobnob' was an English drinking game where two gentlemen would toast one another with libations in equal sized vessels until one capitulated. (SeeSilver at Williamsburg: Drinking Vessels, p. 108.)

This lovely double-beaker is fully hallmarked on one end and the other is stamped with the lion passant and maker's mark. It measures 4.5 inches high, weighs 7.30 troy ounces and is in very good/ excellent antique condition although there has been a Victorian (?) inscription removed on the end under the current inscription.