VERY FINE PAIR OF ENGLISH SILVERPLATE COBALT GLASS CHESTNUT URNS
Marked for Barker-Ellis of Birmingham, England | made circa 1912-1931 | with maker's mark to underside [seven-branch menorah], signed "England" and impressed "8" along with silversmith's scratched notations
Item # 312DPP11Z
An exceedingly fine pair of chestnut or candy urns by the renowned silversmithing firm Barker-Ellis of Birmingham, England, the menorah marker's mark was reportedly used by Barker-Ellis starting in 1912 and continued to be in use by the firm through 1931 [see the Smithsonian Museum of American History, acc. no. 1988.0569.07 for a tray of the same marking and documented dates of use]. The present version of the menorah mark is an earlier version of the marking and probably places the pair of urns to circa 1920.
The urns feature a carved pineapple finial with exquisitely chiseled and chased leaves over a coved lid, this lifting off to reveal a spacious interior with removable hand-blown cobalt glass inserts. These are incredibly rare and positively gorgeous, highly cherished by collectors and conneisseurs and most frequently lost or damaged over the years - the present pair remain in exquisite condition with tiny air bubbles blown throughout the glass and a rich deep blue color throughout.
On either side of the urns hang magnificent lion's head masks with rings hanging from their mouths, four in total. These are of inordinately good quality, the castings above reproach and the chasing of the masks exquisitely articulated - particularly in the fur of the face, in which impossibly small lines of hair are incised before a bold mane.
The urns rest over square plinths raised on ball feet, the undersides being marked as noted.
Pairs of these urns are exceedingly hard to find, particularly with the cobalt blue glass and in this spectacular state of condition. An extraordinarily fine pair of statement pieces that are self-evident in their mastery of the details.
Measurements: 13" H x 4 5/8" W/D (at the base) x 6 1/2" W (at the handles)
Some rubbing through the silverplate to the copper substrate as expected in areas of high handling (notably the lion's masks and rings, corners of the base and other edges]; one nut under the pineapple finial (inside of lid) replaced with a custom fabricated steel nut polished to nearly identically match the original; a brilliant presentation.