This is an incredibly rare, gorgeous set of six miniature antique tankards in dazzling .833 silver. The little cups were made in Naples, Italy at a time when this purity of silver was one of the most commonly used.
Five of the miniature tankards exhibit the die-stamped mark assigned to locally produced Napalese silver manufactured between 1832 and 1872.
The tankards are simply but beautifully decorated with simply with thin incised bands around the top and bottom on each side of a central, wider and more intricate cross-hatched band.
Each tankard has a small handle resembling a serpent; they all exhibit some light detailing including eyes and some scales.
Every one of the tankards is slightly different from the others: a testament to their hand-made uniqueness and beauty.
Each piece has its own space in the original blue-velvet lined box. The exterior of the box is covered with light, stippled leather. The lid has become detached from the base, though the pieces remain together. A fair amount of cosmetic wear can be seen on the exterior and the interior of the box; this is commensurate with its age. The underside of the lid is lined with royal-blue silk.
It features a head in profile wearing a laurel of olive leaves. This is Parthenope, a siren from Ancient Greek mythology. "Parthenope" was the name given to the settlement of Naples in the sixth century B.C.
Next to the "Parthenopic head" as it is called, is the letter "N" over the number "8". The "N" stands for "Nostrale", and indicates that the set was locally produced.
The "8" indicates the 833/1000 purity of the silver. This demarcation system was established in 1832 and used until 1872.
These same five miniature tankards exhibit the faint shadow of other maker's marks, though they have been obscured with age. The letter "D" can be found stamped on the underside of one of the pieces; this was likely a maker's mark of assay mark. Due to the fact that the system was eradicated almost 140 years ago, sometimes these marks are lost to time. One piece in the set of six bears no hallmarks at all.
Each miniature tankard shows a light patina on the interior. This can be polished to a shine, but we leave that to the preference of the buyer.
Though some pieces in the set show some minor wear and a few extremely light surface scratches, they remain in excellent antique condition.
Measurements: Each tankard is approx. 1 ¾" tall (with handle), 1 ½" wide (to edge of handle), base diameter is approx. 1", mouth diameter is approx. 1", Approx. 21.5 grams (each) on average Box: 4 ¾" long, 4 ¾" wide, 2 ½" tall (with lid), 131.4 grams Total weight of set (in box): Approx. 260.4 grams (9.19 oz)