Peter Finer

A German Silver-Gilt Powder Flask, c. 1650-80

Item Ref: 1250 Price on application

1250 1
1250 3

Germany, probably Dresden. Silver, gold, turquoise, steel.


Private collection, Austria

An early attributable example of this form of rosette-like design is found in the carved decoration of the ivory pommel of a Utrecht pistol, dated 1648: see Puype 1996, As in the present instance, the pommel is decorated with close-set concentric lobed bands enclosing a central flower-head motif. The same theme is used on a series of Dutch circular priming-flasks, primarily of ivory, with others made of wood or gilt-brass: see Puype 1996, cat.nos.650-653, 655-6, 659, 662. Also see de Vries and Martens 2007, cat. nos.1008-1010. 

The present flask, very unusually in silver-gilt off-set with turquoise, belongs however, to the Dresden Electoral court taste already established by the beginning of the 17th century. Notably this flask recalls the two garnitures of bladed hunting weapons and accessories, all with gilded mounts studded with turquoise which were ordered from the Dresden goldsmith Gabriel Gipfel by the Prince Elector Christian II, between 1607-9, as presents for his brothers: see Schöbel 1975, no.161, p.208, colour plate p.219. Another similarly striking surviving work by Gipfel  is a gilded parade rapier, which together with its embroidered carrier are jointly inset with 439 turquoises; the rapier was delivered to the Electoral armouries in 1607, at a cost of 2,000 florins: see Watzdorf, 1935-6, pp.4-14.

Small flasks of this kind were used to carry special fine-grain powder for priming the pans of wheel-lock firearms.

De Vries, G. and Martens, B.J., The Visser Collection, Arms of the Netherlands in the Collection of H.L. Visser, Volume I, Part 4, Arnhem 2007
Puype, J.P., ibid., Part 3, Zwolle 1996
Schöbel, Johannes, Princely Arms and Armour, a selection from the Dresden collection, London 1975
Watzdorf, E. von, “Kursächsische Jagdwaffen von Gabriel Gipfel im der dresdner Rüstkammer”, Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen-kunde, XIV, 1935-6

The heavy circular body embossed with concentric decoration surrounding a central turquoise to the front and a floral motif to the rear. The top fitted with spout and hinged cut-off, the sides engraved with floral motif and with three suspension rings, stamped on the rear with unidentified maker’s mark GC.

Size: Height 10 cm / 4 in