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John Wendt (attr.) Antique Sterling Silver Figural Medallion Tureen, retailed by Ball, Black & Co, New York City, c. 1865

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This rare, large covered tureen is just spectacular. The body is oval on a stepped pedestal base. The domed cover is unembellished except for the statuesque model of a bull standing on a patch of ground. This wonderfully posed animal is executed with stunning detail and makes a lovely and unique handle. As with the cover, the body is plain. It relies on its reflective surface to showcase its elegance. The top edge of the body is decorated with an applied die-rolled band of Greek-key design between rows of beading. Used for handles are two exceptional, large castings of bull heads with stunning hand chased details and expressive faces.

Each side of the tureen has an applied circular shield bordered with beading. One side is a wonderful 3-dimensional medallion of Mercury with his winged helmet against a horizontally lined background.

About 1861, the important silversmith John Wendt became principal silversmith to Ball, Black & Co. (the best jeweler in the U.S. at the time) - a relationship similar to the one between John C. Moore and Tiffany & Co. Wendt's shop was located on the fifth and sixth floors above Ball, Black's & Co.'s famous retail store at Broadway and Prince Street in New York City. Both the marks on the tureen and this Mercury medallion are associated with Wendt's shop.

One of the nicest 'medallion' cups we have ever had used the exact but smaller version of this medallion on a pebbled background: click here.

The shield on the other side is engraved:

'G. A. & R. Goldsmith
J. & J. Kohner

Joseph and Jette Kohner lived at 971 Fifth Ave. (at 79th St.) and Joseph is listed as a 'broker'.(1) He was born about 1830 and immigrated to the US in 1845.(2) By 1883, Jette Kohner is listed as living at 143 E 83rd as a widow.(3)

Gustav Goldsmith was born in 1838(4) and is listed in 1880 as a manufacturer of 'Collars and Cuffs'(5). He was a trustee of the Home for the Aged and Infirm Hebrews of New York, the goal of which was 'to maintain a Home for aged and infirm persons of both sexes of the Jewish faith; and also for the purpose of relieving all deserving Jewish applicants who may be considered by its officers worthy of the Society's bounty'.(6)

Gustav was president of the Goldsmith & Hoffman Collar Company on Franklin Street whose capital in 1879 is listed as $250,000.00 (NYC Directory 1879).(7) By 1880, the Goldsmiths are living at 19 East 74th with their six children and three servants.(8)

This magnificent sterling silver tureen is marked underneath ‘925/1000’ within a shield – a mark used by John Wendt when he was the principal silversmith of Ball, Black & Co. in New York. It is also stamped by the retailer ‘BALL, BLACK & Co/ NEW YORK’. It measures 16 inches long by 9 inches wide by 11.25 inches high, weighs 96.20 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.


  1., US City Directories, 1821-1989 (NYC, 1876) [database online].
  2., New York, Passenger Lists, 1825-1957 [database online].
  3., US City Directories, 1821-1989 (NYC, 1889) [database online].
  4., 1900 United States Federal Census (NYC, 1900) [database online].
  5., 1880 United States Federal Census (NYC, 1880) [database online].
  6. Cyrus Adler (editor), The American Jewish Yearbook - September 5, 1899 - September 3, 1900, (Baltimore: The Friedenwald Company, 1899), p. 207.
  7., US City Directories, 1821-1989 (NYC, 1877) [database online]. (Correction - many thanks for Kay Freeman for pointing out this was Franklin St., not Federal St. as originally written.)
  8., 1880 United States Federal Census (NYC, 1880) [database online].