Imperial Russian enamel tankard sells 36.6% above estimate

A Russian enamel tankard has sold as top lot in one of the most remarkable auctions of antique beer steins ever offered, on August 14.

Russian Imperial Tankard Stein
The Russian tankard stands among Faberge eggs and Cristal champagne

The auction took place at the Stein Collectors International 2012 Covention in Maryland, US and was one of the largest and most diversified sales of the drinking vessels to appear on the market for more than 50 years, with every type and manufacturer well represented across 452 lots.

The Russian tankard, crafted from gilded silver with intricate enamel work, was produced in Moscow in 1883 by Pavel Ovchinnikov. A holder of the imperial warrant, Ovchinnikov stands among Faberge, Cristal and Steinway and Sons as one of the few makers to be licensed to create work for the Russian imperial family.

Measuring 8.5 inches and featuring a cylindrical body with stylised flower heads, trelliswork and scrolling foliage, the tankard is engraved with a YB monogram on the front panel and bears the inscription: "From Capital Grand Orchestra 4th anniversary VI/VII 1933 NY". It sold for $41,000, a 36.6% increase on its high estimate of $30,000.

Following closely behind was a monumental silver carved ivory and Viennese enamel tankard, which measured 30 inches in height. Created circa 1880, it featured two different large enamel panels on the body, with a further four small panels set around the base. Described as one of the most magnificent steins ever made, it sold for $40,000.

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