Maté and bombilla
Part (bombilla): 8 x 7/8 in. (20.3 x 2.2 cm) Part (mate cup): 3 3/4 x 4 x 3 in. (9.5 x 10.2 x 7.6 cm) Silver Weight: 5
Wrought and cast silver maté cup and bombilla; maté cup with an urn-shaped body; foliate repoussé chasing in a band below the shoulder; incurved shoulder all over repoussé chased with a floral design on a matte ground; plain applied rim; three cast foliate and paw feet applied to the base of the body; two cast scroll handles applied to each side; bombilla, made of a long cylindrical tube with rings inscribed along its length; conical joint applied to a seven-sided flared opening with a woven strainer applied across the opening; no maker's marks.
Largely unknown in the United States before the 1940s, yerba mate, an infusion made from a plant indigenous to Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Brazil, was a common drink to many South Americans. Its introduction during the first half of the nineteenth century was inspired by increased American diplomatic ties with newly independent South American nations. Unlike tea, mate required a specialized cup and straw with an attached strainer that were commonly passed from person to person. By the mid-nineteenth century, class or wealth was communicated through the type of cup or pot used. Reports from South America noted that the "more . . . refined portion of the population partake of the infusion from a maté, or teapot, formed of silver or other materials, by means of a tin or silver pipe, called a bombilla, perforated with holes at one end." This Neoclassical-style set belonged to Oliver J. Hayes (1802-1861), a New York City shipping merchant.
Oliver J. Hayes (1802-1861), who married Mary Vanderpoel (1805-1867); probably to his daughter Elizabeth C. Hayes Van Nest (1846-1931), who married Frank Van Nest (1844-1929); to their daughter Sarah H. Van Nest (1872-1952), the donor.
Gift of Sarah H. Van Nest
This maté cup and bombilla belonged to Oliver J. Hayes (1802-1861), a New York City merchant and the grandfather of the donor, who brought it from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he was in business.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.