Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Coconut tankard

Andreas Fleischer (active 1605–18)
early 17th century
Hungarian, Nagyszeben
Coconut shell, gilded silver
Overall: 7 1/4 x 3 7/16 in. (18.4 x 8.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010
Accession Number:
Not on view
Vessels such as this one embody the late Renaissance taste for uniting exotic natural materials with artistic craftsmanship. Coconut shells, treasured since ancient times, were thought to have miraculous powers, including the ability to neutralize poisoned wine. With the fibrous husk removed, the shell could be polished and mounted as a lavish drinking vessel. The sculptural handle is derived from a model used around 1600 by goldsmiths in Augsburg, Regensburg, Cologne, and elsewhere. These models were acquired as lead casts by journeymen during the travels they were obliged to make before becoming a guild master.

Fine European Silver. Sale cat., Sotheby’s, Zurich, November 18, 1977, p. 89, no. 188, and frontispiece.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 36, no. 14.

Elemér Kőszeghy. Magyarországi ötvösjegyek a középkortól 1867-ig / Merkzeichen der Goldschmiede Ungarns vom Mittelalter bis 1867. Budapest, 1936, likely no. 1379 [maker’s mark].
For a coconut cup formerly belonging to a Hungrian aristocratic family, see Judit H. Kolba and Annamária T. Németh. Schätze des Ungarischen Barock. Exh. cat. Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Hanau, 1991, no. 18, pp. 73–4.

[Wolfram Koeppe 2015]
Inscription: The shield on the cover engraved with the initials TB and a star.

Marking: On the rim of the base: the maker's mark, "A F" conjoined, for Andreas Fleischer (active 1605-18).
[ sale, Sotheby's, Zürich , November 18, 1977, lot 188; to Salgo ] ; Nicolas M. Salgo (from 1977) ; Salgo Trust for Education (until 2010; to MMA)
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