IMPERIAL GERMANY – TABLE-SALVER/WALL PLAQUE – FEATURING S.M.S. ÄGIR – PEWTER
This round, decorative, pewter salver/wall plague measures approximately 19 ¾” wide in circumference, and sports a gently scalloped rim that varies in width from 2 ¼” to 2 ½.” Its decoratively embossed center measures approximately 14 ¾” across, and descends about half an inch lower than the rim. The salver/wall plaque depicts the S.M.S. Ägir, the second and final member of the Imperial German Navy’s Odin Klasse of Küstenpanzerschiffe (coastal defense ships), whose only other sister ship was the Odin. [Ägir was the Norse sea-god, a figure resembling the Old Man of the Sea]. The ship was armed with a main battery of three 24-centimeter (9.4 inch) guns. She served in the German fleet throughout the 1890s and was rebuilt from 1901 into 1903. The S.M.S. Ägir served in the VI Battle Squadron after World War I’s August 1914 outbreak, although it saw no action. The Ägir was demobilized in 1915, then employed as a tender. After the war, she was rebuilt as a merchant ship and served in this capacity until December 1929, when she was wrecked on Sweden’s Gotland Island.
The pewter salver/wall plaque center is embossed with a depiction of the Ägir at sea, vigorously steaming between a lighthouse and a small sailboat. Its twin stacks belch smoke into a partly cloudy sky that is dotted with seabirds. The salver’s rim is decorated with a number of images relating to the sea and naval service. The ship’s title, “S. M. S. Ägir,” is embossed at the salver/wall plaque 6 o’clock position. The 7 o’clock position features the embossed image of a ship’s anchor emblazoned with a furled flag (possibly a mast). A ship’s cannon (firing to the right) is embossed at the 11 o’clock position, while the 12 o’clock spot is engraved with the following three lines:
“Sympher s/l – Dohrmann”
“z. fr. E(?)”
“Das deutsche Wasserstrassennetz.”
Semper seiner/leiber – Dohrmann
z(-um or -ur) fr. E
“The German Waterway”)
The pewter salver/wall plaque final embossed image appears across the 4 o’clock to 5 o’clock position, and features the Norse sea god Ägir himself. Ägir is depicted as a shaggily-bearded male with his hands clasped or tied behind his back, looking over his shoulder at the viewer. [Having the god’s hands tied might be meant to symbolize the ship’s (or the mastery of the ocean].
A metal triangle is soldered onto the pewter salver/wall plaque reverse, with an old string of twine attached to it, by which it may be hung upon a wall. A small metal oval featuring the word “KAYSERZINN” above the number “4122″ has been stamped on the salver/wall plaque rim’s reverse to the hanger’s upper left. [“Kayserzinn” or “Kayser pewter”, a special lead-free alloy of tin and silver distinguished by its lasting gleam, was produced by J. P. Kayser und Sohn AG, a German metalworks company that existed during the late 19th to early 20th Centuries. The company specialized in mass production, particularly of decor inspired by both floral French Art Nouveau and linear Jugendstil (Germany’s version of Art Nouveau]. The company was directed into producing Jugendstil by Engelbert Kayser, an artist and entrepreneur who happened to be one of J. P. Kayser’s two sons (the other son was then managing the company). Engelbert founded the Kayserzinn trademark in 1894. The company went on to enjoyed great success with its Kayserzinn at the world exhibitions in Paris (1900), Turin (1902), Dusseldorf (1902) and St. Louis (1904). Engelbert was awarded gold medals at Paris, Turin, and Dusseldorf in for pieces that were primarily designed by either himself or Hugo Levin. The artistic significance of Kayserzinn, however, faded after Engelbert’s 1911 death.
Although it shows some signs of use, the pewter salver/ wall plaque remains in good condition. It would make a fine addition to an Imperial German naval art collection!