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Late 19th Century
circa 1890
England
In excellent condition
10 days
In stock
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This opulent Spanish silver plate nef is a remarkable objet d'art honoring the centuries-old humanitarian order better known as the Knights of Malta. Originally founded circa 1113 to give medical aid to pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem during the Crusades, The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta soon included a military branch charged with defending the Holy Land. Over the centuries, the Order was forced to move its headquarters to Cypress, then to Rhodes, eventually being given the island of Malta by Spanish King Charles I, ruler of Sicily, in 1530. By this time, the Knights had a formidable navy, the first ever for a chivalric order. This grand nef pays homage to the height of the order's navy, which occurred in the 17th century, when it participated in number of naval battles against the Ottoman Navy and the Barbary pirates. The nef takes the form of a great Spanish galleon. Three masts and riggings hold several wind-swept sails, while the multi-level deck is brimming with the activity of numerous Knights. Several cannons located on the sides of the galleon denote its usage in military campaigns. To find such a majestic and intricate nef of the size and condition of this specimen is simply extraordinary. Dating to the Middle Ages, the nef is an opulent table ornament in the shape of a ship. The earliest known mention of the nef is from 11th century France and indeed, its name is derived from the French nickname for a popular ocean sailing ship. The vessel was likely initially used as a goblet for drinking, and the four decorative wheels of the vessel, as seen here, enabled the ship to be easily passed around the table. As the form evolved, it became an elaborate dining accessory crafted of precious metals and stones and used to hold valuable items such as salt and other spices and condiments. Over time, the nef became purely ornamental and remains a striking centerpiece for the dining table, circa 1890. Measures: 27" wide x 7 1/2" deep x 31" high.

Time Period C.E.:
Late 19th Century
Date of Manufacture:
circa 1890
Country of Origin:
England
Width:
69 cm
Depth:
19cm
Height:
79 cm
Condition:
In excellent condition
Organization:
The British Antique Dealers' Association
Dealer Location:
United Kingdom
Return Policy:
Returns can be initiated within 2 days of delivery by contacting 1st-certified.com. Purchases made on 1st-certified.com are covered by our buyer protection program.

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