Norwegian - Beaker, 18th century


Beaker, 18th century

Silver , 13 cm (5 1/8 in.)


This Norwegian silver beaker is called a berger  to describe a footed drinking vessel that is stemmed or conical. Decorated with lions—a symbol of Norway—and cupids, several beads dangle from the middle band.This style of silver drinking vessel originated in Northern Germany and is often referred to as hansabeger or Hanseatic beaker—for the Hanseatic League, a medieval organization of merchants who dominated European trade from the 13th–15th centuries.  Although they have Germanic origins, bergers were heavily produced in the Norwegian city of Bergen throughout the 15th–17th centuries. Isabella Stewart Gardner probably purchased  this beaker in 1867 on a trip in Norway with her husband Jack. After Jack’s death in 1898, Isabella kept fresh flowers in the cup in his memory. The Museum continues this tradition today.