Today, we are offering you one of the most interesting items ever owned by Kaiser Wilhelm II and offered to you here on Der Rittmeister Militaria. It is no secret that two of our favorite merchandise categories are items once owned by royals and those related to the Navy. Our offering today combines both types with an item attributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II and his royal yacht, the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern. This truly magnificent wine carafe was used daily aboard the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern to set a fine table for the Kaiser and his guests.
Kaiser Wilhelm II had strong feelings about the sea and its possibilities for Germany. He firmly supported expanding the Kaiserliche Marine under Secretary of the Imperial Navy Alfred von Tirpitz. As one of Queen Victoria of England’s grandsons, Wilhelm was exceedingly jealous of his British cousins. He was determined that Germany should have a Navy equal to Great Britain’s, as well as overseas colonies to produce wealth for Germany’s Empire as they did for Britain’s.
Kaiser Wilhelm II also greatly enjoyed his luxurious royal lifestyle on land AND sea. His royal yacht and aviso (royal dispatch boat) was the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern. While onboard, he enjoyed every amenity that was available at his numerous German castles. He had special dishes and glassware created solely for use onboard the Hohenzollern that were just as fine as that at any of his castles. [Recently we offered and quickly sold one of the Hohenzollern’s salad cruets].
The best-known S. M. Y. Hohenzollern was the second to bear that name. It was placed in service in 1893, then used extensively until mid-1914. A third S. M. Y. Hohenzollern was under construction when war broke out in July 1914. WW I not only halted progress on the third yacht, but also ended Wilhelm’s use of the second. [In the nineteen years the second Hohenzollern was in service, Wilhelm spent the equivalent of FOUR full years on board]!
The Hohenzollern’s carafe is a glass flagon that is rounded at the bottom. It holds a total of 28 U.S. ounces (.83 liters). Its diameter at the top is 2 ½” and 3″ in diameter at the base. The flagon’s bottom features a sunburst design. The title S. M. Y. Hohenzollern is etched into its glass side toward the base. The presentation’s true stars are featured at the carafe’s top and its handle, which are both rendered in .800 silver! The graceful handle flows down smoothly to the flagon’s mid line. It attaches to the top, where a close look reveals Kaiser Wilhelm II’s crowned royal cypher attached to the flip-up. A wreath encircles the cypher, then is joined at the top with the Hohenzollern Crown. The distinctively elegant presentation simply reeks of Imperial German noblesse oblige. The lid’s underside reveals the hallmarks “37230,” a mark I cannot identify, and the royal silver fineness hallmarks: a half moon, a crown, and .800.
We are proud to offer such an exquisite carafe with its echoes of an epoch of Imperial grace and refinement.