A German 19th Century Nef
Silver Hanau circa, 1890 With import hallmarks for London, 1899 The importer and retailer Theodore Hartman
Height: 57cm, 22.4in Weight: 3,360g, 108oz
The nef was a dinner-table ornament or utilitarian article in the form of a fanciful model of a ship, with masts, sails, rigging, poop, an ornamental bowsprit, and sometimes canopies on the deck, and with various figures on board. The hull rests on an ornamental base or wheels. The earliest examples 13th-16th century were drinking cups, but very impractical; later ones were for dining implements and napkins. Some included a salt cellar and were placed on the table near the host at a banquet as a type of Great Salt. By the 19th century the function was purely decorative.