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Object: Claret jug

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Title Claret jug
Production Salomon, Nathan (silversmith), circa 1865, Dunedin
Materials sterling silver, eggshell, cork
Classification claret jugs
Dimensions Overall: 288mm (Height) x 93mm (Length) x 100mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Purchased 2003 with Charles Disney Art Trust funds
Registration number GH010063

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.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.