Object: Claret jug
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Salomon, Nathan (silversmith), circa 1865, Dunedin
|Materials||sterling silver, eggshell, cork|
x 93mm (Length)
x 100mm (Width/Depth)
|Credit line||Purchased 2003 with Charles Disney Art Trust funds|
This wine decanter is one of the earliest-known examples of New Zealand silverwork. It was made in Dunedin during the Otago gold rush, at the height of the town's prosperity.
A Jewish silversmith
Its maker, Nathan Salomon, was Jewish (as were many of New Zealand's early silversmiths). Little is known about him except that he was listed in Dunedin business directories as a 'Chronometer, Watchmaker, Goldsmith and Jeweller' and had premises in Princes Street from 1864 until 1870. In 1865 he exhibited some of his wares at the New Zealand Exhibition in Dunedin.
Animal and metal
The metalwork on the decanter is beautifully crafted in an elaborate decorative style reflecting vine and floral motifs. The use of an emu egg to serve as the container may seem odd today, but a number of similar jugs were made in Australia around that time. The use of animal parts in objects made from precious metals like gold and silver is actually a very old tradition, which enjoyed renewed popularity during Victorian times.
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