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French Silver “Dieu Protège La France” Cognac Tastevin

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Metals: Silver: Continental: Pre 1900: Item # 1234925
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A classic 19th century French silver tastevin of traditional form by master silversmith Alexandre Vauger. This example is of small size, intended for use in evaluating cognac, Armagnac or calvados instead of wine. Unlike the “perles” and “godrons” found on the walls of a wine taster, a cognac taster more accurately reflects the liquid’s color using a smooth surface. Similarly, cognac tasters are smaller than wine tasters because the alcohol is considerably stronger and a smaller taste is more appropriate. The bottom of the interior features a partial image of Hercules flanked by female figures representing “Liberty” and “Equality” that once appeared on the 5-franc coin of the Third Republic. The back of the coin, dated 1873, is visible on the bottom of the tastevin. The taster is finished with a classic engraved double serpent handle, the heads grasping the apple of temptation.

Accomplished French silversmiths prided themselves on the ability to raise an entire tastevin from a single 5-franc coin, using only hammers and a few other hand tools to thin, spread and shape the flat coin into a finished tastevin. Only a handful of masters were capable of raising the tastevin with the words “DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE” (“God protect France”), originally found around the outer edge of the coin, still visible along the top edge of the tastevin. The last silversmith proven to have mastered this skill stopped working in 1968.

This tastevin is stamped with French silver hallmarks and has the master silversmith’s mark for Alexandre Vauger, who worked in Paris 1884-1887.

Origin: France, 1884-87. Condition: excellent. Dimensions: 48 x 66 mm (1-7/8 x 2-5/8 in). Weight: 30.9 grams.