Silver nef centrepiece
This rather charming antique Victorian silver nef personifies the whimsical nature of this type of table centerpiece. The stylised galleon hull is beautifully handmade with engraved and chased detail to show the wood grain on the planking and windows. The model has many finely detailed parts, beautifully modeled figures and cannon, applied decorations and open-work railings. The removable deck has two masts in full sail and is adorned with cast figures of sailors going about their business. Four cast cannons protrude on each side, while a hinged rudder in the form of a dolphin and a chained anchor feature on the port side. The hull is mounted on two dolphin supports with four wheels to allow easy movement across the dining table.
While early nefs were just simple hulls and served as containers for perhaps cutlery or salt and spices, they later became such detailed works of art that there was no longer any space to hold anything and they evolved kkinto purely decorative centrepieces.
During the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th a tax was applied to imported luxury goods. To avoid the tax, ornamental pieces like this nef and other imported models, were created with removable sections to suggest a return to their useful purpose, and hence avoided this tax.
The London Silver Vaults, Vaults 8 & 10, 53-64 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7242 6646 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.langfords.com