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Tiffany & Co Antique Sterling Silver Figural 'Wine Cooler-Vase', New York City, c. 1870

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Stunning and rare, this sterling wine cooler has Greek myth inspired decoration. Appropriately cast figures of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and his wife, Ariadne, are incorporated into the design.

The circular base is raised with four cast and applied female masks on pedestals with shells, anthemion leaves and scrollwork. An intricate interwoven design decorates the bottom side of the base. The domed pedestal neck is bordered around its bottom edge with a row of bold beading. These decorative elements are also used on the removable cover.

The front and back of the large vase-shaped body have cast and applied scenes. One side is of Dionysus assisting a panther with a drink.

The opposite side depicts Ariadne, Dionysus's wife with a panther. The panther and lion were the sacred animals of Dionysus. According to Greek myth, Ariadne was carried on a panther to Dionysus after she was abandoned by Theseus.

The cast and applied handles are spectacular. The three-dimensional satyr heads are magnificent examples of superb casting with stunning details. One is depicted here reveling, wearing a headdress of leaves and berries and rope necklace with bells. The details are so well done one can see the textured skin and count his teeth.

The other handle is also wearing a headdress of vines and berries and a rope necklace with bells. While one head looks distinctly masculine, like Dionysus, and the other feminine, like Ariadne, Tiffany's costing records indicate these were 'satyr heads.'(1)

It is very rare to find an American sterling wine cooler with its original cover and insert. The insert is silver plate and screws into a threaded interior section of the body.

Interestingly, Tiffany made this wine cooler to be a convertible vase. Their records indicate it was a 'wine cooler-vase'.(2) As many of the wine coolers we sell are used as vases, this seems a fairly sensible combination.

This stunning cooler is marked underneath 'TIFFANY & CO./ 2360/ 5955/ QUALITY 925-1000/' and with the Moore mark used from 1865-70. It measures 11.75 inches wide across the handles by 13.25 inches high, weighs 77.35 troy ounces (without liner) and is in excellent antique condition.

Provenance: Victor Niederhoffer Collection, Sotheby's December 15, 1998, Lot 267.

  1. Sotheby's, Symbols of Excellence: The Victor Niederhoffer Collection of Trophy and Presentation Silver, (New York: Sotheby's, 1998), p. 42.
  2. Ibid.