This huge and heavy pastry server is about 18 inches long (45.7 cm) and
is one of the largest pieces I own.
At the finial is a fisherman holding a stick with an attached net
surrounded by flourishes and chased designs.
Below is a fisherman with a fishing pole with an attached fish
surrounded by flourishes and chased designs
The stem appears to be cast with chasing and vines and
The bowl features a scene with six males and a
background boat as well as various accroutements.
The figures are repoussed and chased and the cutouts are hand done with
The ribbon says "Peter de Groote 1697 te Zaandam"
("Peter the Great 1697 Zaandam").
Peter the Great of Russia came to the Dutch Republic in August of 1697
because he wanted to learn the Dutch method of building ships. At first
he worked as a common laborer and tried to be incognito, but people
soon figured out that the tall man with curly hair was indeed the
I suspect that this piece does not date to that time period, but
it is a later commemoration.
The bowl is very detailed with a lot of repousse work and extensive
Near the top of the bowl are two dolphins and below is a large two
The repoussed men from left to right:
1. Detailed bearded laborer with a cap sitting on a chest next to a box
of tools and a table with jugs on it.
2. man in bloomers with his elbow resting on the table.
3. seated man with a book
4. seated man looking at the same book
5. standing man wearing bloomers smoking a pipe
6. seated man with crossed legs holding a jug.
a bird mark and some tiny
unreadable marks but I have not been able to trace them, however, this
server does have nice workmanship.
There are a number of stories about Peter the Great's visit to Holland.
Basically his goal was to make Russia a ship faring nation, and he
wanted to learn the Dutch shipbuilding 'secrets'
I have copied this interesting passage from
The Awakening of Europe
by M. B. Synge
"HOW PETER THE GREAT LEARNED SHIPBUILDING
ONE day in the year 1697, when William III. was yet ruling over England
and Holland, the Dutch shipbuilders at the little village of Zaan-dam
were surprised to hear that Peter the Great, Emperor or Tsar of Russia,
was at the village inn.
"Yes," said the people, he had come to learn from the Dutch how to
build ships, and he was disguised as a common sailor like themselves.
It was quite true. Peter the Great had come from the heart of his great
country, Russia; he had crossed the Baltic into Sweden, and thence had
reached Holland. It was but six o'clock in the morning when he arrived
at Zaandam, and he had been the first to jump ashore and moor his ship
to the quay. Meeting a Dutch workman, who had been employed once in
Russia, he insisted on going to his cottage for a lodging. It was a
small bare cottage built of wood. It had but one room, with a big
chimney-corner and a wooden cupboard in which a mattress was laid for
"We are only foreign craftsmen seeking work," he told the curious
people. Then he bought himself a set of carpenter's tools, carried them
to the cottage with his own hands, and set to work at once. He dressed
in a Dutch suit, like the local boatmen, in a red waistcoat with large
buttons, short jacket, and wide breeches. He spent hours daily watching
the shipbuilders at work; he visited saw-mills, oil- and paper-mills,
rope-works, sail-makers' and iron-smiths' workshops. He made a model
windmill too. He also bought a small ship, made a mast with his
own hands, fitted it up, and sailed about the bay.
But meanwhile the news had leaked out that the tall, handsome man, with
long curling hair, in the dress of a Dutch sailor, was indeed the Tsar
of Russia, and crowds of people began to follow him everywhere. So a
week later he escaped to Amsterdam in a violent storm of wind, and
there he was given a lodging in the great dockyards of the East India
Company. Here he worked steadily for four months, so that he might help
in the building of one ship from end to end. He rose early, lit his own
fire, cooked his own food, and lived altogether like a simple workman.
It was a very different life to that he had lived in Russia. From his
earliest years he had been surrounded with every luxury. As a baby he
had slept in a cradle covered with velvet and embroidered with gold,
his sheets had been of silk, his frocks of satin trimmed with pearls
and emeralds. At three years old he had driven in a little golden
carriage drawn by four tiny ponies, while dwarfs rode beside him as
bodyguard. As a boy he loved sailors and soldiers, and was enthusiastic
about ships and the sea. Such was the boyhood of the man who was to
found Russia's army and navy.
PETER THE GREAT AT AMSTERDAM.
Peter the Great was working away in the dockyard at Amsterdam, when one
day the Duke of Marlborough visited the docks to see him at work. 
"Peter, carpenter of Zaandam, help those men to carry that wood," cried
the foreman, in order to point him out to the Englishman. And the Tsar
Peter obeyed at once.
When the ship was finished, it was offered to Peter the Great as a
present from the city of Amsterdam. He accepted it with joy, christened
it the Amsterdam, and carried it back to Russia. He had built his ship,
but still he was dissatisfied. He thought the Dutch worked too much by
"rule of thumb," that they had no knowledge of shipbuilding really. So
he grew sad and out of spirits; he had travelled so far and had not
"reached the desired goal."
"You should come over to England," said an Englishman who was present.
"In our country shipbuilding is carried to the highest perfection."
Peter the Great was delighted with the idea. He had met William of
Orange, and the King of England had sent him a beautiful ship,
constructed on a new plan. Peter now asked him if he might come to
England in order to visit the dockyards. William replied by sending
over two large ships to conduct the Tsar to England. Arrived in London,
Peter the Great went over the large docks at the mouth of the river
Thames. He soon mastered the higher branches of shipbuilding to his
"I should have remained a carpenter only had I not come to England," he
used to say afterwards.
But it would take too long to tell how Peter the Great returned to
Russia and taught his people how to build ships, how he built the great
city which bears his name, Petersburg, to this day. He built it on the
shores of the Baltic, at the mouth of a large river, in imitation of
Amsterdam, and made it the capital of Russia.
But the story of how he learnt to build ships in Holland and England
shows how, in the eyes of the world, those two nations were in advance
of all others in the art of shipbuilding."
Beard Tax Token
History is very interesting. Apparently Peter the Great after his trip
to Europe decided that he wanted Russian men to be clean shaven as were
the men in Europe.
Therefore he instituted a 'beard tax'. If a man wanted to have a beard,
he had to be a token showing he had paid the tax.
If a man were in public and didn't have the token, the police would
forcibly shave him.
Example of a beard tax token
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