Antique German Silver Neff Sailing Ship


Stock: 7776

Date: Circa 1900

Maker: B Neresheimer & Sohnes

Country: Germany

This is a superb solid silver galleon ship, known as a Nef), with a tall mast having multi section sails,...

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This is a superb solid silver galleon ship, known as a Nef), with a tall mast having multi section sails, a manned crows nest and rigging. The deck is beautifully modelled with people and equipment – to the rear the captain is steering the ship’s wheel with a lantern behind him, and on the prow a sailor is standing next to the ships cannon, the anchor hangs below. Around the edge of the deck there is a pierced gallery decorated with cherubs and flowers.

The top section of the Neff can be removed from the hull. The hull of the ship is finely chased with cherubs and leaves, flowers and scrolls and the interior is gilded. The ship stands on four decorative wheels.

Weight 577 grams, 18.5 troy ounces.
Height 24.5 cms. Spread 25 cms. Top of the hull measures 18 x 6 cms.
The hull has a set of German hallmarks with maker’s mark for Neresheimer.
The bottom edge of the top section has the silver grade “13”. Circa 1900.

Literature: The neff (originally spelt nef) is an ornamental model ship made specially for the dinner table. They are usually quite elaborate with masts, sails, rigging and various figures on board. Early examples (13th-16th century) were drinking cups or receptacles for dining implements. Nefs originated from the continent and were used in France, Germany, Spain and Italy but most nefs found today were made in Germany at the end of the 19th century.
Traditionally the dining table nef was made in two sections and the top half was removable so that the hollow hull could be used to contain the spoon, knife, napkin, spices of the host. When the use of great dining halls waned, the hull was fashioned to hold wine, sweetmeats or a variety of special condiments.


The neff is in excellent condition.

Maker Information

Maker: B Neresheimer & Sohnes

B. Neresheimer & Sohne, Hanau, Germany are probably the best well known of the Hanoi silversmith firms operating around the turn of the 19th century. The antique silver industry of Hanau specialised in excellent copies of old master silversmiths’ work, particularly Nuremberg pieces, double lady cups, old goblets, snuff boxes and so on. These copies were marked with fantasy marks, somewhat resembling old marks, which also harmonized with the style of the piece. For example, French rococo style reproductions are marked with French looking marks, German seventeenth century-inspired pieces got German-looking marks, and so on. These marks were usually in a style reminiscent of seventeenth and eighteenth century maker's marks.

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