Samuel Kirk & Son 11oz Silver Antique 'Askos' Claret Jug, Baltimore, 1846-61
Based on a classical Greco-Roman form of jug found in both pottery and metal, this style of claret jug is one of the rarest forms in American Silver. Made to resemble the animal skin bag in which a shepherd would carry wine and/or water, this classical interpretation features fully cast goats on the rim and a bold acanthus leaf decorated handle with a classical putti at the base.
This heavy piece is largely cast except for the drawn molded foot, die-rolled band on the mouth and the applied wire 'strings' that would have tied the original skin bag closed. The surface has been stippled to resemble animal skin.
Uncovered during archeological digs in the late 18th century, this form was adapted to current use becoming a claret jug. Representing the profound love for antiquity that permeated the Regency period, many fine examples come from the shop of important English silversmith Paul Storr.
American examples are very rare, although Kirk made a few - some are repousséd, but others, such as this one, adhere to the classical ideal.
Thomas Jefferson saw a bronze roman askos jug that had been uncovered at the excavations at the Maison Carrée in Nimes, France, while there in the 1790's. (This building ultimately became the model for the new Virginia Capital building in Richmond.) He secured a wooden model of the jug and upon his return to the United States commissioned Philadelphia silversmiths Anthony Simmons and Samuel Alexander to make him one which he used at Monticello. (To see an image of his jug and the source of this information, click here.)
This wonderful antique silver jug is marked underneath 'S KIRK & SON', '11oz'. Measuring 7.75 inches high and weighing 34.5 troy ounces, this ewer is in very good/ excellent antique condition with light wear to the highlights.
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