Silver tankard made by Tiffany & Co.

New York, United States of America, AD 1874-76

In the Japanese style

Tiffany & Company was a leading New York silver and jewellery firm established in the mid-nineteenth century by Charles Lewis Tiffany, the father of the glassmaker, Louis Comfort Tiffany. In addition to its own products, the company sold luxury goods by other manufacturers, some imported from abroad, through its New York store.

From the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century the Japanese had refused to trade with the West. Commercial and cultural contacts were re-established in 1858, prompting a wave of interest in all things Japanese. Companies such as Tiffany in New York and Liberty in London began importing Japanese goods, and the fashion for Japonisme - the adoption of Japanese styling in Western decorative arts and interiors – was widespread during the 1860s and '70s.

Edward C. Moore (1827-91), Tiffany's chief designer, and director of the firm's silver works from 1868 to 1891, was a collector of Japanese metalwork. Under his direction the company produced many objects in the Japanese style during this period. Not only is the subject matter of this tankard clearly Japanese, but the technique of oxidizing the silver to turn it black is derived from a type of Japanese metalwork, that used a black patinated background, called shakudō or shibuichi. This was used, for example on tsuba, the hand-guard mounted on a Japanese sword.

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More information


J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

C.H. and M.G. Carpenter, Tiffany silver (London, Owen, 1979)

C.H. Carpenter and J. Zapata, The silver of Tiffany & (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1987)


Height: 10.200 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1990,10-17,1



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