This guild tankard (Zunftkanne), or Schleifkanne, is supported by three seated lions, each holding a shield stamped with an indistinct quality mark of English “Blockzinn.”(1) It is of the usual type of a Nuremberg Schleifkanne. Its name derives from the German Schleifen, the guild’s initiation rites to mark the end of a pupil’s study time with a master to become a Geselle.(2) The vessel’s form was known at least since the Late Middle Ages and continued until well into the seventeenth century.(3) The shape of the Lehman piece with its feet and finial in the form of seated lions, and with the placement of the shields, is consistent with Nuremberg guild tankards from this period. A pair of Zunftkannen from Nuremberg, dated 1635 and also made for the baker’s guild, are similar in shape, dimensions, and decoration.(4) The grotesque mask of the Lehman tankard recalls the engraved ones on those two pieces. Another work, made for the Nuremberg shoemaker’s guild and dated 1655, was sold on the Amsterdam art market.(5) Inconsistencies between marks and the engraved date on the shield may be explained by later repairs; the bottom plate has been replaced, possibly in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century (hence the inscription JMR), as have the spigot and the seated lions. The quality marks on each of the shields are highly abraded and appear to consist of an angel holding a sword in her right hand and a pair of scales in her left. On her right is a jumping stag and on her left the number 74. The inscription around the marks is ENGLI[. . .] BLOCKZINN. A Nuremberg hallmark with the maker’s initials M JCN of Johann Christoph Normann (active 1786 – 1814) is stamped on the handle.(6) On the bottom of the container the initials JMR are engraved in an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century hand. Inside, in the center of the bottom, is a large rose mark, which was inserted at a later point in time. The marks on the feet are of a common eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century type. These features indicate that the feet and bottom were repaired (and replaced) at a relatively late date, possibly 1774, whereas the handle was repaired by Normann about 1800.
Catalogue entry from: Frits Scholten. The Robert Lehman Collection. European Sculpture and Metalwork, Vol. XII. Frits Scholten, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 236-238.
1. See Hintze, Erwin. Ed. Die deutschen Zinngiesser und ihre Marken. 7 vols. Leipzig, 1921 – 31, vol. 3, p. 70, nos. 407, 410, for comparable marks on late eighteenth-century German pewter.
2. Thormann, Dagmar. Zunftzinn und Zunftsilber im Germanischen Nationalmuseum. Kataloge des Germanischen Nationalmuseums. Nuremberg, 1991, p. 60.
3. Ibid., figs. 27 – 36.
4. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Haedeke, Hanns Ulrich. Zinn: Ein Handbuch für Sammler und Liebhaber. Bibliothek für Kunst- und Antiquitätenfreunde 16. Braunschweig, 1963, fig. 175; Thormann, fig. 29).
5. Beekhuizen, J.F.H.H. De schoonheid van het oude tin: Een overzicht van vijf eeuwen tin. ’s Hertogenbosch, 1998, fig. 196.
6. Hintze, vol. 2, p. 137, no. 458.