Silver Collection

The Silver Collection, more precisely the precious metals collections, is divided into three parts: A (gold), B (silver), and D (silver with additives). The largest of these is the B collection. The oldest and most valuable part of the Silver Collection is comprised of the collections of the Tallinn guilds and the Brotherhood of Black Heads – a total of 400 items. The rarest items date back to the Middle Ages, the newest to the first decades of the 20th century, when these associations ended their activities. The majority of the guild silver belonged to the artisans’ Guild of St. Canute, although items that belonged to the Great Guild and the Dome Guild are also represented. The tall and fancy toasting goblets of the artisan’s guilds from the 17th and 18th century are very attractive. Among the ceremonial items is an 18th-century table bell topped by a rare knight’s figure surrounded by a fence, dating from the 15th century. There are also about 270 hanging signs among the guild silver. According to tradition, an artisan who had become a master gave his guild a silver sign, which was engraved with his name, the date of his becoming a master, and usually the emblem of the relevant handicraft field. The Black Heads’ collection includes 104 items, the majority of which are various shaped containers: tankards, beakers and goblets. The greatest rarity is a parrot with ruby eyes from the first half of the 16th century. This is a travelling prize that was awarded to the winner of a popular crossbow or parrot-shooting competition. Also unique are five standing cups in the shape of deer-feet, which are not to be found anywhere else in Europe. The oldest of them is a gift from Tsar Peter the Great in 1721. There are other gifts from Russian tsars in the collection, for instance a gilded Renaissance goblet from the 16th century, which was made in Nuremberg and which was given to the Black Heads in 1827 by Tsar Nicholas I. The best of the guild and Black Heads collection and a selection of the church silver are on display at the Niguliste Museum’s Silver Chamber.