Object Number: #351
Family Gelb, most probably Johann Caspar III Gelb
City’s hallmark: Pyr for Augsburg 1711-15 (Seling 2007, p. 46, No. 1390)
Maker’s mark: a spade for the family Gelb, probably Johann Caspar III Gelb (Seling 2007, p. 480, no. 2018)
Diameter: 35 cm (13,77 in.); weight: 2.392 gr.
The large round silver monteith bowl rests on four cast lion‘s claw feet. The vaulted basin displays a decor with alternating upside-down stylised flowers and tongues. On two sides, the hinged-handles are fastened on lion’s masks. A high, eight-fold cut-out edge rises above. The plain shield-shaped parts alternately depict female heads and grotesque masks.
In the eighteenth century, some drinks were drunk only cooled, so the glasses had to be tempered. For this, special vessels, the monteith bowls, were filled with ice water. The incised edge made it possible to adjust the glasses, so that the cup could be cooled down in the cold water.
The shape of the glass-cooler became common in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The name of the vessel as “monteith” derives from a Scottish nobleman and is mentioned for the first time in 1683.
Glass-coolers made of silver are very rare today. Due to the intrinsic value of silver, they were as vessels with a high silver content quite quickly melted down, when the need to make money (e.g. during war) was pressing.
Early examples from England are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York and of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Glass-coolers were made of other materials later in the eighteenth century, especially of porcelain. These are much more common today.
The first silversmith in the Family Gelb was Melchior I Gelb, who was born around 1581 in Ulm. He began his apprenticeship with Hans IV Pfleger in Augsburg. Around 1614 he became master maker. The creative period of the family members Matthias I, Melchior I and Johann Caspar III Gelb began in the early seventeenth century and continued into the eighteenth century. Helga Matzke currently presents another monteith by Johann Caspar III Gelb.
Karl Hernmarck: Die Kunst der europäischen Gold- und Silberschmiede von 1450-1830, München 1978.
Helmut Seling: Die Augsburger Gold- und Silberschmiede 1529 – 1868. Meister Marken Werke, München 1980 und 2007.
Klaus Pechstein et al. (Hg): Schätze deutscher Goldschmiedekunst. Vom 15. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert aus dem Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Berlin 1987.
Hans Ottomeyer (Hg): Die öffentliche Tafel. Tafelzeremoniell in Europa 1300 – 1900. Begleitband zur Ausstellung. Wolfratshausen 2002.
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Edel gekühlt in Silber (last visited: 14.11.2018).