Possible Sterling Trophy/Flower Bud Vase w/ Mystery Inscription

bigcaddy64

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I was out with the wife on Saturday and encountered an older gentleman (at a yard sale) that spent some time in the Navy near China, Korea and Japan. He had a few things out for sale and 1 item really caught my eye.

I bought a few things from him including this silver looking object. The mini flutes can be removed and resemble Bud vases.
It has the look of silver but I can’t find a single mark anywhere on it, aside from the inscription that I can’t read. The rest is adorned with flowers, ribbons, scrolls and birds.


i tried using google lens to decipher but it came up with partial results.
The wood base it mounted with a silver screw that feeds through the bottom of the base. It looks like the correct color but I’ll keep searching for some sort of hallmark. if anybody can read the inscription, I’d love to know what it actually says.
 

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EKG

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got a phone i bought in china this one got AI cam to translate asian text and can detect them its not 100 percent
it says on right side
to ensure the integrity of the great ship owner
left side
please give me your gift
 

UnderMiner

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That is Sterling Silver my friend, several hundred dollars worth at least. The Chinese used the British standard for a long time due to their colonization at the time. Usually the hallmarks were hidden on the inside of the piece, Chinese craftsman had a tradition of not marking their names on their art, but the British would have required at least a purity mark so it was often well hidden as a compromise. It will most likely appear as a little square, a millimeter or so in diameter, with Chinese characters in it, it could even be smaller than this. Conversely they also sometimes wrote the manufacturer name and purity in standard English.
 
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Red-Coat

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These kinds of bud vases are sometimes loosely referred to as ‘trumpet vases’. I don’t recall seeing one with multiple trumpets; they’re most usually ‘singletons’. This is a nice one.

It falls loosely in the category of ‘Chinese Export Silver’ and I would think probably dates somewhere around 1900-ish to 1920-ish. It’s common to see them with inscriptions indicating they were a presentation gift (eg given to a trading partner) or some kind of ‘prize’. If the inscriptions give names of recipients or dates that are of historical interest, that generally adds to the value.

At minimum they usually (not always) have a discrete workshop mark tucked away somewhere but often no purity mark. Some have additional Chinese characters that literally translate as ‘pure silver’ but not with that literal meaning in the sense of being unalloyed. It’s taken to mean that the piece is at least 900 fine (the generally accepted purity for silver coinage used in trade with China) but often produced to the sterling standard or better. For pieces that do meet the sterling standard, those imported in bulk may have a British hallmark including the letter ‘F’ for ‘Foreign’ (not for pieces going to America) but more usually they’re nominally 900 fine or better and carry pseudo-hallmarks loosely copied from British pieces. Presentation pieces often have neither, nor any commercial need for them.
 

pepperj

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These kinds of bud vases are sometimes loosely referred to as ‘trumpet vases’. I don’t recall seeing one with multiple trumpets; they’re most usually ‘singletons’. This is a nice one.
During the my collecting years these were referred to as an eperngne, 3 flutes/trumpets.
 

Red-Coat

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During the my collecting years these were referred to as an eperngne, 3 flutes/trumpets.

Yes, that’s what they’re often dubbed these days but I didn’t recall having seen one (with multipes) in Chinese silver, although clearly they do exist and Chinese export silver was of course made to suit Western tastes.

Although the term has been extended to describe table centrepieces in general, strictly speaking an epergne is a particular kind of centrepiece that traditionally held food; pieces of fruit, small side dishes or sweetmeats for diners to help themselves. The traditional design has a bowl or sometimes a trumpet vase or candleholder at the centre and surrounded by a number of arms having small dishes or baskets (as below). If there’s a bowl at the centre, the arms may have candleholders or trumpets for flowers.

Epergne.jpg
 

pepperj

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Yes, that’s what they’re often dubbed these days but I didn’t recall having seen one (with multipes) in Chinese silver, although clearly they do exist and Chinese export silver was of course made to suit Western tastes.

Although the term has been extended to describe table centrepieces in general, strictly speaking an epergne is a particular kind of centrepiece that traditionally held food; pieces of fruit, small side dishes or sweetmeats for diners to help themselves. The traditional design has a bowl or sometimes a trumpet vase or candleholder at the centre and surrounded by a number of arms having small dishes or baskets (as below). If there’s a bowl at the centre, the arms may have candleholders or trumpets for flowers.

View attachment 2085641
I guess in history the timeline of what "dubbed these days" really refers to ?.

I understand your explanation on what they are, and how a trumpet fits in, and the uses of Epergnes.

I'm just going on what they were referred to when my sister used to collect/ buy and sell the depression glass epergnes.
The stores/markets/pickers/auction houses all referred to these as Epergnes.
(Might have been a west coast Canadian phrase.
We have been known for bastardizing the proper English language. :laughing7:)

This was through the 1970's that the collecting craze was really going strong.
I have seen single and multi fluted ones in silver plate in sales/homes.
Though the few silver ones have been in finer silver antique shops.

 

Yang Hao

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The Chinese character inscription is interesting and unique (I will get to that later). I believe I have the translation. Firstly I put the traditional characters in the following order:

唐樂敬贈堅弭大船主雅鑒

It translates like this:
唐樂: Tang Le (name of a person)
敬贈: jìng zèng (respectfully gives as a gift)
堅弭大:Jianmida (name of a person)
船主:chuán zhǔ (captain/shipmaster)
雅鑒: yǎ jiàn (Chinese grammar 敬词 jìngcí to mean term of esteem)

Tang Le respectively gives as a gift to esteemed ship captain Jianmida.

Here are the odd things about this inscription. First are the characters 堅 鑒. The person who did the inscription changed the chen part of these characters to mu。 Also the chuan looks much different.

Furthermore, I'm not 100% on the captain's name as jian is not a usual last name however mi is a more common last name. So therefore the captain's name could be Mida and not Jianmida.

Happy Hunting!
 

tamrock

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I guess in history the timeline of what "dubbed these days" really refers to ?.

I understand your explanation on what they are, and how a trumpet fits in, and the uses of Epergnes.

I'm just going on what they were referred to when my sister used to collect/ buy and sell the depression glass epergnes.
The stores/markets/pickers/auction houses all referred to these as Epergnes.
(Might have been a west coast Canadian phrase.
We have been known for bastardizing the proper English language. :laughing7:)

This was through the 1970's that the collecting craze was really going strong.
I have seen single and multi fluted ones in silver plate in sales/homes.
Though the few silver ones have been in finer silver antique shops.

Thanks for posting the link, Pep. It sure has some pretty merchandise. This is a English sterling piece I picked up in 2016. I posted it on TN and was informed then it's to be called a Epergne. Even when I first opened up this post of BD64's I knew it was also referred to something other than a trumpet vase, but my brain just couldn't retrieve it. It's just one of those descriptions that's a tough one to remember for me.
 

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UnderMiner

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Thanks for posting the link, Pep. It sure has some pretty merchandise. This is a English sterling piece I picked up in 2016. I posted it on TN and was informed then it's to be called a Epergne. Even when I first opened up this post of BD64's I knew it was also referred to something other than a trumpet vase, but my brain just couldn't retrieve it. It's just one of those descriptions that's a tough one to remember for me.
Wow! $50 is an excellent deal for that treasure! 😍
 

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