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A German silver-gilt cup formed as a rearing horse. Mark of Erhard Ellers, Torgau, circa 1670

Realistically modelled, with detachable head, the base cast and chased with foliage and rock-work, marked on base and on cover bezel - 8¼ in. (21 cm.) high - 16 oz. (497 gr.) Est. £20,000 - £30,000 ($33,220 - $49,830)

Notes: The tradition of offering a guest a "Willkommen Pokale", or welcome cup, of wine was long established in Europe and culminated, in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the production of charming cups in the form of animals with detachable heads. These cups would have taken a form relevant to their owners, for example modelled as a heraldic beast or the symbol of a guild. Cups in the form of a horses, such as the present example, were sometimes intended to be used as prizes for competitions.

We are grateful to Professor Dr. Ernst-Ludwig Richter for the identification of the maker's mark.

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A German parcel-gilt silver cup and cover. Mark of  Matthaus Blank, Augsburg, 1622-1626

Cylindrical, the lower body lobed, below fluted panels with matted decoration, on spreading foot with openwork beaded buttress stem, the detachable cover with flat spreading rim pierced with hearts, with foliage finial, marked on foot and on cover - 15 in. (38 cm.) high - 15 oz. (471 gr.) Est. £20,000 - £30,000 ($33,220 - $49,830)

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A German parcel-gilt silver cup and cover. Mark of  Matthaus Blank, Augsburg, 1622-1626.

Cylindrical, the lower body lobed and below fluted panels, all part matted, on spreading base with baluster stem, the detachable cover with foliage and flower finial, marked on base and on cover - 11 7/8 in. (30 cm.) high - 11 oz. (342 gr.)  Est. £15,000 - £25,000 ($24,915 - $41,525)

Christie's. Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes. 17 November 2009. London, King Street www.christies.com