Large 1835 Moscow-made Sterling Silver Vodka Cup.
Stunning example of niello work!
With a height of 55mm, the cup has a diameter across the top
of 57mm and across the bottom of 40mm. It weighs 71.4 grams.
There are a total of four hallmarks: one indicates Moscow as
the point of origin and another 1835 as the year it was
made. The initials of the assayer and the silversmith are
also both present, although unfortunately illegible.
Very good to excellent condition. There are two or three
minor dings along the lower edge of the cup but, while the
niello work has been disturbed by the dings, there has been
no significant damage to the inlay and any minor loss that
has occurred is certainly not visible to the naked eye.
("Niello", of course, is a black metallic alloy of sulfur,
copper, silver, and usually lead, used as an inlay on
engraved metal - in this case silver - to create a dark and
clear design, pattern, or picture.)
There are two circular panels showing pastoral scenes
situated between two purely decorative sections exhibiting
what are either cornucopia-like horns or baskets overflowing
with leaves and flowers. One scene is a pastoral view of a
shepherd, a shepherdess, and two sheep. The other scene is
of a stylish young woman sitting in a chair in a field.
While nothing about the clothing of the human figures
indicates a specific time period, the overall impression is
that of the 18th century.
In our opinion, this is a beautiful cup whose artwork was
probably originally intended to appeal to customers in
1830's Russia who were nostalgic for the closing decades of
the 18th Century (and perhaps the reign of Catherine the
Great). Its ownership will give someone a wonderful
opportunity to possess a extraordinarily well executed
example of a once popular metalworking technique that has
now nearly vanished.