Large German early 20th century parcel-gilt silver nef


Celebrating the centuries-old tradition of nef-making, this lavish sculpture is replete with intricate high relief decoration and silver gilt features.


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This superb parcel-gilt silver nef was crafted in the early 20th century by skilled German craftsmen.

The delicate yet very impressive piece is wonderfully detailed. The ship’s body is cast with high relief scenes filled with mythical creatures, scrolls, waves, windows, and even a coat of arms. On the deck are several silver gilt figures, their gold hue brilliantly standing out against the shining silver. Silver gilt ornaments can also be spotted on the bow or the wheels. The gilded figurehead is cast as a dolphin, a design repeated above the four wheels supporting the model. Some of the sails feature various coats of arms.  The flags are superbly crafted, appearing as if waving in the wind, giving the nef a more realistic appearance.

The first mention of nefs is recorded in 13th century France, where they were used as table ornaments or containers. Objects such as cutlery and napkins could be stored in them as well as salt or spices. The wheels were a functional addition, allowing the piece to be easily moved across the table. However, by the 14th century, their designs became so elaborate that there was no longer any storage space – they became purely decorative. This luxurious object was placed in front of the most important person at the dinner table, marking their high status.

The piece is stamped with ‘GERMANY’ as well as other silver hallmarks.

With a spectacular number of fine details, this antique nef would be a superb addition to one’s interior space.

The piece weighs approximately 7212 grammes.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 20th Century
Early 20th Century
Marine / Seascape
Silver, Silver-gilt
Gold, Silver


80 cm / 31.5 inches
70 cm / 27.6 inches
19 cm / 7.5 inches
7212 g


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