Chestnutvase with Dolphins
Bennewitz and Sons
A silver chestnutvase, Amsterdam 1830, Bennewitz and Sons. Height 31 cm.
Private Collection The Netherlands
B.J. van Benthem: Bennewitz en Bonenbakker, Zwolle 2005. P. 387 image 474
This stunning silver chestnut vase has striking dolphin ornaments. Both the knob on the domed smooth cover as well as the three legs are shaped like beautifully detailled dolphins. A horizontal band featuring sphinxes and vase ornaments is applied to the center of the spherical vase and has a rope border along the bottom and top rims.
A chestnut vase was used to hold candied chestnuts (marrons glacés) that were served as part of the dessert course. The earliest known silver chestnut vases were made around 1785. Although the chestnut vases were also sometimes used for serving pieces of candied pineapple and other sweetmeats, changing dining habits meant that they were seldom made after 1840. Most chestnut vases were made of pewter, which was then decorated. We also know examples in crystal. Only the most luxurious models were made of silver. Like biscuit boxes, chestnut vases are among the silver items that, as far as we know, were only made in the Netherlands.