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Powder blower

Powder blower

  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1695 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Baur, Tobias (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilded silver (silver-gilt) chased and pierced with silver and enamel and leather

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.553:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This object is part of a 26 piece toilet service. Tobias Baur was one of Augsburg’s leading makers of travelling toilet services during the seventeenth century and many of his services survive: the largest of which contains ninety-one pieces and is in the Residenzmuseum, Munich. This service was probably to be placed into a fitted drawer in a cabinet. When travelling, it would be transported in its original case. Many of the pieces are decorated with enamel miniatures of putti in landscapes. Although unsigned it is believed that these enamelled miniatures were supplied by the Fromery workshop in Berlin.

The 18th century saw an emerging class of rich citizens who used their acquired wealth to indulge a passion for beautiful objects. The Renaissance tradition of the treasury or Schatzkammer, a special room for displaying exotic artefacts, continued in the 18th and 19th centuries. Other types of display included presentation plate, often of solid gold, which in the 18th century was worth about twenty times the value of silver.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

The powder blower is in the form of a pair of bellows. The casings are of the baluster shape with gadrooned borders and shell-shaped handles; the lower casing is engraved with scrolling flowers and a circular enameled miniature. At the tip is a pierced nozzle and a detachable engraved and fluted cap.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (made)


ca. 1695 (made)


Baur, Tobias (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gilded silver (silver-gilt) chased and pierced with silver and enamel and leather


Length: 9.8 cm, Width: 4.5 cm, Height: 4 cm, Weight: 80 g

Object history note

Provenance: Purchased from S.J.Phillips, Ltd., London, 1986.

Descriptive line

Silver, parcel-gilt, enamel, and leather bellows, Augsburg, ca.1695, by Tobias Baur

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Joppien, Rüdiger, ed. Ein rheinischer Silberschatz - Schmuck und Gerät aus Privatbesitz. Exhibition catalogue, Cologne (Kunstgewerbemuseum)1980, cat. no. 27, pp. 56-58.
Seling, Helmut. Die Kunst der Augsburger Goldschmiede 1529-1868: Meister, Marken, Werke. Vol. I. pp. 292-93; Vol. II. fig. 560. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1980.
Schroder, Timothy. The Gilbert collection of gold and silver. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1988, cat. no. 152, pp. 560-63. ISBN.0875871445
Scarisbrick, Diana. Le Grand Frisson : 500 years of jewels of sentiment, Paris : Les Editions Textuel, 2008


Silver; Enamel; Silver-gilt; Leather


Gilding; Engraving (incising); Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Gadroons; Flowers; Scroll-work; Shells


Accessories; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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