ELEGANT LATE RENAISSANCE DRINKING GAME BEAKER

Object number 

City hallmark: Schweinfurt around 1600 (eagle with curved rim) see Scheffler 1977, p.44, no. 84; Rosenberg 1911, Volume 2, p. 595, No. 3416

Maker’s mark: “AH” in the octagon: Adam Hälbich (also: Helbich, around 1600 – 1626 (Scheffler 1977, p.47, no. 89; Rosenberg 1911, volume 2, p. 595, no. 3422)

French import stamp

Dimensions: Height: 11.4 cm, foot: 5.9, at the edge of the lip 8.3; Weight: 154 g

Detailed Description

Schweinfurt drinking game beaker  with Allianz coat of arms, inscription, numbered „2“, 1615

Silver, partially gilt, cast, chased, engraved, hallmarked

Alliance coat of arms of Michael Höllerich & Margaretha Schuler (wedding on January 8, 1594, St. Johanniskirche Schweinfurt)

Engraved inscription on the bottom of the beaker: “IETZ.EINER.EIM.VIL.GVTE. // WORD: GIBT // BUT.SEIN.HERTZ.DAVON.WE // IS.LAVTER.NICHTS”. // 1615., numbered “2” and dated 1615.

Detailed information:

The present elegant Schweinfurt renaissance beaker was part of the councillor family Schuler’s collection. The conical Schweinfurt beaker rests on a flat base ring that widens slightly towards the edge of the lip. The elegant, slim cup shape is enriched by intricate decorative elements. The upper half of the wall is adorned with an elaborately engraved scrollwork decoration where a narrow border surrounds the slightly flared lip of the cup. The rolled-up flower tendrils, buds and blossoming flowers are artfully structured with the utilisation of stylized gems and trapezoidal stones. Convoluted ornamental leaf tendrils protrude downwards in a symmetrical arrangement, from central structure of the piece. The clearly structured composition, put together on a latticework reflects the compositional and order principles of the Renaissance. However, the use of the purely symmetrical ribbon decoration with twisted acanthus tendrils is worked into the piece with reference to the early baroque. Polished, unstructured surfaces contrast with the purposefully balanced and finely crafted decor. The artistically engraved borders and tendrils are wonderfully highlighted with the use of partial gilding which skilfully progresses to the ennobling of the beaker.

The hallmark:

The eagle with a curved rim indicates that the beaker was made in Schweinfurt/Bavaria. According to Rosenberg (R², p. 595, nos. 3416 and 3422), the combination of town and master’s mark is on a gilded chalice with angel heads, fruits and a coats of arms.

Alliance coat of arms:

The alliance coat of arms of the Schweinfurt families Höllerich and Schuler is engraved on the bottom of the drinking vessel, which is framed by a bundled wreath of leaves in honour of the couple. On the man’s side (left) is the house sign and monogram MH, that of Michael Höllerich, a son of the Schweinfurt councillor and mayor Johann Höllerich (1541-1614) . On the woman’s side (right) is a heraldic shield consisting of two crossed partisans with the monogram MS, which Margaretha Schuler, daughter of the Schweinfurt councilor Willibald Schuler, can be assigned to.

Inscription:

A unique a notable feature of this mug is the engraved inscription found on the motto of the piece: “IETZ.EINER.EIM.VIL.GVTE. // WORD: GIBT // BUT.SEIN.HERTZ.DAVON.WE // IS.LAVTER.NICHTS”. // 1615. Above which is the number 2.

The motto indicates this piece to have been used as part of a “drinking game” widespread in the early modern era. The admonishing motto on keeping things moderate is attached to the bottom of the vessel and only becomes visible after the cup is lifted while drinking. The more often the cup is lifted during a boozy drinking session, the more frequently the saying appears to be repeated, serving as a smug warning: One should not forget that as the alcohol level rises, the words become more exuberant, but the heart (and mind) becomes more careless. The numbering 2 indicates that it belongs to a set of cups. A mug with a motto on the bottom was also on show in an exhibition at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich: “The silver mug – Variations of a drinking vessel from the Renaissance to the present” from March 28 to July 29, 2012.

Comparative Objects:

Two comparable objects with hallmarks of the city of Schweinfurt and the master’s mark KG (probably from the goldsmith Kilian Gerstner) and the initials WS and MH are dated 1616 and 1618. They are shown in István Heller 2000, pp. 248-250, panel XXVIII., mistakenly assigned to a Transylvanian master there. The three beakers are very similar in their décor, whilst the beaker from 1616 also has a engraved areas which are partially gilded. The cup from 1618 presents a coat of arms with two crossed partisans, above it the initials WS, attributed to Willibald Schuler II, the brother of Margaretha Schuler, and next to it is the coat of arms of his wife with the initials MH for Magdalena Hübner , whom he married on November 24th, 1605 in Schweinfurt. It can be assumed that the three cups were formerly part of the “Schuler family silver”.

Master:

Scheffler 1977, p. 47 assignes the maker’s mark “AH” to the master Adam Hälbich (approx. 1572-1626). Hälbich was married twice and worked as a goldsmith in Schweinfurt. Scheffler lists two other objects with the maker’s mark “AH”; a goblet with a six-pass foot, alongside rich Treibwerk and the Erthal donor’s coat of arms from 1626. In addition to this  a lidded goblet that was auctioned at Weinmüller in Munich in 1963, can also be attributed with the master mark, “AH”.

Literature:

Heller, István .: Hungarian and Transylvanian goldsmiths. From the end of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century, Munich 2000, pp. 248-250, panel XXVIII. (The cups later attributed to Kilian Gerstner were assigned to the master’s mark master “KO” or “KG”, an unknown master from Transylvania.).

Rosenberg, Marc: Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen, 2nd increased edition, Frankfurt am Main 1911, therein pp. 594-595. (esp. p. 595, hallmark for Schweinfurt no. 3416: eagle with a curved edge; maker’s mark no. 3422: “AH” in an octagon).

Scheffler, Wolfgang .: Goldsmiths on the Main and Neckar: Data – Works – Signs, Preliminary Investigations, Hanover 1977, p. 44. (on the Schweinfurt inspection mark), p. 47 (on Adam Halbich / Helbich).

Scherner, Antje: “Yesterday I was full”: Alcohol and drinking games in the early modern era, in: The fascination of collecting, masterpieces of goldsmithing from the Rudolf-August Oetker collection, ed. By Monika Bachtler, Dirk Syndram and Ulrike Weinhold (exhibition in the Green Vault in Dresden and in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich 2012), pp. 91-99 (on drinking behavior and drinking games in the early modern period).

 

Online resources:

https://www.bayerisches-nationalmuseum.de//fileadmin/images/ausstellungen/2012/oetker_silberbecher/Silberbecher_Flyer_.pdf

Mohr, Otto: “Council of the Imperial City of Schweinfurt. 1553-1802 “: https://www.schweinfurtfuehrer.de/persönlichkeit/rat-der-reichsstadt-schweinfurt-von-1553-1802/

http://www.sw.om-mohr.de/ratsh/schulerw2.htm

http://www.sw.om-mohr.de/ratsh/hoellerichj.htm