A Very Rare Coin Silver Nautical Speaking Trumpet Mounted in Its Original Case, Marked By Samuel Lewis, Washington, D.C., Circa 1845
Speaking trumpets were used in the eighteenth and nineteenth century by sea captains and fire chiefs to amplify their voices. Large scale presentation presentation speaking trumpets were given to fire chiefs and sea captains to commemorate important events. Most of the ones known are made of brass or silver-plate. Very rarely they were made of coin silver, as is this one and a virtually identical one in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
There is a marvelous painting on this web site showing in the upper right-hand corner one in use on a ship. https://ltwilliammowett.tumblr.com/post/659525998300348416/the-speaking-trumpet
This one is decorated with finely engraved Viking long boats with sails and an eagle with a branch in its beak flying above the waves. The mouthpiece is chased on each side with a sailor in a boat and the bulbous section is chased with a porpoise on each side. A vacant cartouche is applied near the end of the body. It is surrounded with foliate engraving.
The interior of the lid of the case is stamped in gold: “S Lewis, 250 Penna. Av, Washington D.C.”
The horn is stamped inside the rim with “S Lewis, Washington D.C.”
Length: 23.5 inches
Diameter: 5 2/3 inches
Weight: 33.2 troy ounces