Silver Chamber

The silver chamber exhibits the finest of the collection of silver of the Art Museum of Estonia. The exposition in the former sacristy is divided into three parts: church silver, the silver of the Brotherhood of the Black Heads and the silver of the guilds and crafts. Such an extensive amount of guild silver has been preserved only in a few European cities.

The collection of church silver primarily contains liturgical vessels that originally belonged to St Nicholas’ Church. The seal of St Olaf’s Church of Tallinn from the 15th century is also a fascinating exhibit.

The silver collection of the Brotherhood of Black Heads includes items from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The oldest object in the collection is an early 16th-century popinjay with ruby eyes, which was used as a travelling trophy for the winner of a medieval “popinjay shoot”, an archery contest which was popular in the Middle Ages. The majority of the Black Head collection consists of standing cups, tankards and beakers, including a standing cup in the shape of a deer-foot, found only in Tallinn. 

Most of the guild silver is from the St Canute’s Guild; however, objects initially belonging to the Great Guild and the Toompea Guild are also on exhibit. The magnificent high welcome cups of the trade guilds from the 17th and 18th centuries are the most eye-catching of the exhibits. Among the ceremonial objects are the mace of the alderman of the St Canute’s Guild, as well as an 18th century table bell with a rare, 15th century figure of a knight surrounded by a fence on top of it.

A separate showcase is dedicated to pendant shields. Traditionally, a craftsman who had become a master would donate a silver pendant shield to the guild of his speciality. On it there was his name, the date when he was declared a master and in most cases also the emblem of his craft. During festive ceremonies, the pendant shields were hung on the welcome cups.