James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover
James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover
James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover

James I Silver-Gilt Steeple Cup and Cover

  • This amazing silver steeple cup dates to the early 17th century
  • The steeple cup was a form utilized during the reign of James I
  • Silver pre-dating the Cromwellian era and the Great Fire of 1666 is exceptionally rare
  • Steeple cups are included in some of the greatest museum collections in the world
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Item No. 30-5485
$64,500
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description
An important and exceptional early 17th-century English silver-gilt steeple covered cup of exceptional size crafted during the reign of James I. To find works of silver created in the 17th century and earlier is remarkable, considering the rebellion of Oliver Cromwell in the mid-17th century and the Great Fire of 1666 was responsible for destroying a majority of English silver and the records of registered silversmiths. However, to find early works of silver of such monumental proportion is unquestionably rare. This significant example is dated 1623 and is surmounted by a steeple ornament. The Jacobean era was marked by a strong conservatism felt by James I in response to the immigration of Protestants from the Continent, therefore much of the silver from this time is infused with classical themes. A vast number of talented, Protestant artisans, including silversmiths, made their way to England to escape religious persecution. They not only found a safe haven for their personal beliefs but an audience for their unique creations. Their influence on the designs of the period with elements from their homelands, including the steeple, changed the face of English silver design and craftsmanship forever. From the 17th century forward, the steeple cup became known as an English form.

Silver has long been associated with wealth and prestige for centuries. In ancient times, it was scarcer than gold and was used sparingly for jewelry and smaller objects, often of a mystical nature. Hence, it was likened to the moon, given the name Luna by alchemists and became the symbol of the goddess Diana. Those who had the knowledge to create objects of silver were regarded with much respect. Beginning in the 16th century, London became the center of the silversmith trade. Small towns such as Exeter recorded over 100 silversmiths living and working within its boundaries in 1550. Silver steeple cups, ewers, basins and flagons, vogue forms often displayed at grand buffets and ceremonial occasions, became desired gifts of the nobility and affluent. The most notable example is a collection of 16 steeple cups given as ambassadorial gifts from England, which are still on display at the Kremlin. One of these cups came directly from the personal collection of James I and was presented to Tsar Mikhail Romanov in 1620.

Hallmarked London, 1623

4 1/4" diameter x 16" high
specifications
Period: 17th Century
Origin:England
Type:Goblets & Cups
Diameter:4.25 Inches
Height:16 Inches
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