Campaign / Field travelling canteen, silver-gilt cutlery + condiments, Tahan ? French circa 1860

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French silver-gilt travelling canteen, with outer turned & veneered ebony box inset with silver gilt beaker, containing a blue silk stand housing elaborately moulded folding spoon, knife, fork, an ivory salt/pepper container, a 2-part steel corkscrew, and an ivory bodkin.     

Each piece of metalwork bears an engraved ‘PW’ with a Count’s coronet above.

Metalwares all hallmarked with Minerva head, ‘1’ to indicate .950 silver   

Makers marks : beaker ‘D&Cie’ around a goblet, a star beneath

cutlery: a flaming torch with ‘L B’, possibly Delisle Brothers, Paris

Circa 1860

Canteen 13.5cm high

minor wear, some repair to outer wood, metalwares with minor signs of age only

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Although unmarked, an attribution can be suggested to the Tehan Manufactory, Paris, based on an identical case in a Christie’s sale with the manufacturer’s plaque.    

       Alphonse Tahan (1830-1880) was the official ébéniste de l’Empereur or master cabinet maker to Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, the Empress Eugénie. Known for her beauty and impeccable taste, the Empress Eugene enjoyed the reputation as a trend setter and favored the workshop Tahan. Some period descriptions of the firm include

“At Tahan’s, one never looks at the price: the important thing is that the name Tahan appears on the object”

“Supplier of the King and Princes”

“one of those manufacturers who outstrip fashion and set the tone instead of following.”

        Tahan Fabricant was located at 30 Rue de La Paix from 1849 and subsequently from 1878 at Boulevard des Italiens. They exhibited at The London Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851 and the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855, winning multiple medals. However, the fall of the Empire in 1870 also meant their main clients were no longer supporting them, and they closed in 1882.   

In the case of this campaign canteen, Tahan would have compiled the components from other Paris artisans – hence the beaker bears a different mark to the cutlery – and combined them in the superbly made wooden box.

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