A Lavish Silver Punch Set With Ties to Russian Royalty Could Be Yours for $498,000
Czar Alexander III gave the ornate set to Captain Joseph Wiggins in 1893.
Vintage barware is a treat in and of itself, but it’s even better when said piece is steeped in royal history.
Take, for instance, the exquisite silver punch set that has just popped up for sale at M.S. Rau.
Dating back to the 19th century, the one-of-a-kind service was commissioned by Czar Alexander III and made by the House of Sazikov. Established in 1793 by merchant Pavel Sazikov, the jewelry firm quickly garnered attention for its high-quality silverware and became a supplier to the Imperial Court in 1837. It remains the oldest such firm in Russia, according to M.S. Rau.
Alexander III gave this particular piece to Captain Joseph Wiggins in recognition of his pioneering expeditions along the Yenisei River. The British skipper was instrumental in establishing the Kara Sea route. He also transported rails for the Trans-Siberian railway up the Yenisei in 1893. It was this particular feat that earned him a lavish gift from a certain Russian emperor.
Forged from silver, the ornate punch set is hallmarked 1874 to 1875 and inscribed with old Slavic drinking proverbs. Sayings such as “The heart burns at the thought of wine” and “Good fellowship is better than wealth” run across the cups and ladles. Other engravings pay tribute to Wiggins and his voyages.
“To Captain Wiggins from the Imperial Russian Naval Ministry,” an inscription on the edge of the tray reads. “In memory of the voyage in 1893 to the mouth of the river Enisei, jointly with the ships of the Imperial fleet, Lieutenants Ovtsyn, Malygin and Skuratov.”
The center of the tray features another laudatory message from the Royal Geographic Society in England. It states that the set was presented to Wiggins by the Czar of Russia in 1894, after which the captain left it to the Royal Geographical Society in September 1905. The barware then made it into the private collection of Victor Niederhoffer before it landed at M.S. Rau in New Orleans.
As you might expect, such barware does not come cheap. The silver rarity will set you back a cool $498,000. Hey, at least you don’t have to journey up the Yenisei to get it.