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Samovar

From the Collection of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 250-290 Spring Street East Melbourne Victoria

Description
Antique sheffield plated samovar with shell design and pressed rib border, finely worked casted handles, spout with swivel top, with tapered centre column, square shaped base with cast lions feet

Object Registration
218/2019
Historical information
Donated by Sir Henry Newland.The samovar stands 41cm high, and is 39cm wide across the handles. It is made of Sheffield plate, and dates from the late 18th century. It is supported on a square base with four cast lion’s feet attached by elaborate mounts at the corners. The main vessel or tank is circular, and set on a short columnar stand. These elements are heavily fluted. There are two elaborately decorated solid cast silver handles attached to the sides of the tank. A long spout with a cast ivory handled tap extends from the bottom of the tank. The lid is plainer, with a fluted and scalloped edge, and is capped with a finial. Inside the tank is a cylindrical immersion container for hot coals, a primitive type of heating element. There is a crest, probably that of the original owner, engraved on the shoulder of the tank above the tap.

A samovar is a Russian tea urn but the College’s samovar is not a tea urn, as it does not include the stand or the teapot. Undoubtedly it was intended to provide hot water for tea, and the absence of a matching teapot indicates a cultural difference between the English and the Russians, in the way in which they went about brewing tea. It is a showpiece, intended for use and display in the reception rooms of the house. In the 18th century tea was still a rare and exotic import from the Orient, so the serving of tea was an important act of hospitality and a statement of social status.
Significance
Sir Henry Newland was the College President 1929-1935
Last updated
17 Feb 2020 at 12:24PM