Karl Bender

previously believed to be Karl Bank


The mark “KB” appears on some of the finest objets d’art produced in Vienna in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Objects of the highest quality - such as tazzas, cups, nefs, clocks, cornucopias - were made in Vienna, emulating the style of Italian Renaissance and Baroque, using beautifully carved rock crystal or hand-painted enamel, and mounted in elaborate silver-gilt mounts and set with precious stones. The striking quality of such pieces, and the unique use of finely painted enamel, is typical of a handful of Viennese makers, such as Hermann Böhm and Hermann Ratzersdorfer.

Competing with the above firms, some of the finest objects of this kind are marked “KB” on the silver mounts. These initials have been long attributed to Karl Bank, jeweller active in Vienna between 1895 and 1924.

Further research recently demonstrated that these superb pieces are in fact the work of Karl Bender. His workshop was located in Vienna from 1875 until 1880 at Wienstrasse 63 and then at Grüngasse 25 from 1881 until 1892 (see Waltraud Neuwirth, Wiener Gold and Silberschmiede und ihre Punzen, 1867-1922, Vienna, 1976, p. 102).

Bender trained under the goldsmith Hermann Leichter, specialising in revivalist precious-metal objects mounted in enamel and hardstone.