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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Hellenistic Inscribed Gilt Silver Wine Cup

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LOT 0106

GBP (£) 1,800 - 2,400
EUR (€) 2,120 - 2,830
USD ($) 2,190 - 2,920

Bid History: 9   |   Current bid: £525 (+bp*)

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Bid History: 9   |   Current bid: £525

A silver bell-shaped cup or bowl, raised from a single sheet of silver, parcel-gilt, with hatched gilt bands to the inner face, pointillé maker or owner stamp to the outer rim; the interior of the cup decorated with a gilded circular band under the rim, and a central gilded garland composed of alternating leaf and geometric forms, embellished with dots and lines. 6 in. (305 grams, 15 cm diameter). [No Reserve]

CONDITION REPORT: [Click to show]

Acquired 1950-1960.
Private German collection of Mr F.
Property of an American collector.
Property of a London gallery.

See Pfrommer, M., Metalwork from the Hellenized East: Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1993, pp.21ff and 140ff, for general discussion and parallels.

During the Hellenistic period, wealthy Greeks, rich Hellenised Asian people and even Central Asian royalty used silver as a sign of wealth more commonly than before. The profits from the mines of Laurium Hills in Attica, discovered in 5th century B.C., enriched several Athenian families and created a greater pool of silver with which artisans could produce fine goods like this cup. In Hellenistic times we often find a small ornamental medallion in the centre, framed by tendril friezes or other decorative zones at varying intervals, like in our cup, and, especially if the cup was purchased by a Barbarian leader, the punched mark of the Greek workshop which produced the vessel, with the possible indication of the weight, or the owner's name. The decoration of our cup finds a parallel among Near Eastern silver and suggests the work of an eastern Hellenised workshop. Archaeological findings suggest ritual functions for these cups too. Silver cups have been unearthed in abundance at sanctuaries associated with Diana and Hercules - two figures in classical religion associated with birth, nursing, and rearing children.