Symbolic of judgement leading to conflict, the frieze on this tankard depicts an otherworldly contest of beauty. The goddess of discord, Eris, perturbed at being the only deity not invited to the wedding banquet of Peleus and Thetis, threw down a golden apple intended for the fairest goddess, knowing that it was a prize sought by many. The beautiful but cowardly Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, was asked to judge between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. When he selected Aphrodite, on the promise that he would have the most beautiful mortal woman, he made enemies of Hera and Athena, ultimately leading to the abduction of the fairest Helen and the destruction of Troy.
Another tankard depicting the same scene, by Philip Rundell of 1820, sold at Sotheby's, New York, December 16-17, 1982, lot 540. It was presumably intended as a gift for a Russian patron, with its Russian Imperial eagle finial and its cover depicting the Northern Hemisphere with relevant Russian cities. A Victorian tankard of this model by Reily and Storer of 1845 is also known.