Antique Victorian Silver Tankard – 1864

Antique Victorian Silver Tankard – 1864

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Large antique Victorian sterling silver pot-bellied tankard with bold floral decoration and with highly decorative handle.

It is inscribed:
Presented to Capt. John  Stuart
Ship Umgeni
By the passengers on the homeward voyage
From Natal
3rd July 1866

This tankard has a very interesting history. The Umgeni was a wooden ship built by Smith’s of Aberdeen in 1864 and it was used on the South Africa route. Trips to South Africa at this time were mainly to take original settler pioneers from the UK to South Africa however this tankard was given as a gift to the captain of the ship on the return voyage to the UK from Natal. The tankard is actually hallmarked for London in 1864 and so it seems it was bought in London and taken to South Africa to be given to the captain on the return voyage and maybe there is in existence a similar tankard that was given on the outward trip.  The voyage itself must have been difficult. The trip took over 2 months and was through some of the worst seas imaginable and with a large number of passengers crammed into a small space with no fresh food or water.

The tankard weighs 438 grams or 14 ozs, has a 1 1/4 pint capacity and is hallmarked London 1864 with the WS mark for William Smily who was the silversmith – it also has the name A B Savory and Sons London which was the name of the firm that Smily worked for. It’s a super quality tankard, very attractive and with a unique history.

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