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Goldsmith’s Art

Goblet with cover belonging to the Zunft zu Hausgenossen (House companions' guild)

Key data

Sebastian Merian, Basle, 1687

Silver, cast, embossed, chased, punched, engraved, parcel gilt, height 59 cm

Inv. 1895.63.


In Basle the goldsmiths, coiners, money changers, jewellers and foundrymen were amalgamated in the guild 'zu Hausgenossen' (house companions). It is not surprising that the house companions' guild's treasure is particularly rich in vessels and utensils of high quality. This mighty goblet was presented in 1687 on the election of Sebastian Merian, who made it, and of Peter Raillard as officers of the guild. The fact that a crowned bear with a halberd appears twice, as part of the stem and in place of a knob on the cover, is explained by the name of the guild house, 'zum grauen Bären' (at the grey bear), and by the charge of a crown on the guild's coat of arms. Merian demonstrated his skill as a goldsmith not only in the embossed figures, but also in the rich engraving which covers all the ungilt areas on the base, bowl and lid. The engraving includes both ornament and scenes illustrating the crafts of the goldsmith and of the other professions included in the guild. The coats of arms of the guild and of the two donors are particularly prominent.

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