Antique Silver Bear


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Object Description

A superb antique silver standing cup in the Renaissance style modelled in the form of a standing bear with outstretched paws. The interior of the removable cast head, and the jewelled collar, are gilded. This delightful animal is beautifully modelled and engraved, the quality is very realistic.

Weight 257 grams, 8.2 troy ounces.
Height 18cm. Diameter of base 9.6cm.
London 1855.
Maker D & C Houle (Daniel & Charles Houle).
Sterling silver.

Marks. Stamped with a full set of English silver hallmarks on the neck and base, the body with Victoria’s head, lion and maker’s mark.

The original company was started by John Houle, London silversmith and son of John Houle, London, chaser, apprenticed to William Rock within the Vintners Company in 1798, free 1807. First mark entered in 1811 as plateworker, Clerkenwell, London. Second mark 1813. Livery of the Vintners in 1818 as silversmith. 3rd mark in partnership with his two sons, Daniel John Houle and Charles Houle in 1844. In 1845 Daniel and Charles Houle entered their own mark in joint partnership, working until 1884, supplying high quality silver articles in a large variety of styles to selected retailers. Some of their finest work included exquisite items such as this standing cup, often boasting gold inlay and parcel-gilding.

Object Literature

The offering of a “welcome cup,“ of wine to a guest was a long established tradition throughout Europe, and resulted by the late 16th century in the creation of imaginative animal-form drinking cups with detachable heads. The surviving cups from this period, formed as stags, owls, horses, dogs, and other creatures, comprise some of the most attractive, amusing, and desirable objects ever made in silver or, more usually, silver-gilt. Vessels in the form of game most likely graced the treasuries of princely hunting-lodges, while some of the animals represented those used in the coats-of-arms of a family or the symbols of a guild or corporation. Other cups, such as the horse-form examples, may have been prizes for competitions. Whatever their initial purpose, animal-form cups remain some of the most enchanting links with a vanished age.
In Renaissance times the bear was a popular south German form for a cup of this kind. Those which have survived are highly prized and many can be seen in major museums and collections worldwide. The example in the British Museum is from the Rothchild’s Waddesdon Manor bequest. Another, auctioned in 2015 by Christies, fetched USD389,000.

Object Condition

In very good condition and fully functional. Stamped with a full set of matching silver hallmarks. The gilding is still bright. The coloured stones are all present.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)207 288 1939
+44 (0)7904 297419

Dealer Location

Vault 31-32
The London Silver Vaults
53-64 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1QS

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