Coconut Cup

English (London)
1574–75
Probably by Hugh Kayle


Object Place: Europe, London, England

Dimensions

H. 24 cm (9 7/16 in.); W. 17 cm (6 11/16 in.); Diameter (of rim) 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

33.60

Medium or Technique

Coconut shell with silver-gilt mounts

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Silver

The coconut shell is supported by a flaring fluted stem on a domed foot that is embossed with strapwork, fruit, and flowers. Projecting moldings have punched egg-and-dart decoration. The mount is secured with three hinged straps depicting caryatid figures that are attached at the top to a flaring rim engraved with birds entwined in foliage. The S-shaped handle is joined to the stem with a hinged strap and is soldered to the rim. It is engraved with birds and foliage on the spine and with crosshatching on the terminus. The domed cover is embossed with strapwork enclosing heads and clusters of fruit and has a punched rim. The baluster finial rests on a raised, rayed disk and is attached to the cover with later rivets. The cast thumbpiece depicts a grotesque face in symmetrical strapwork.

Construction:
The foot, stem, and cover are raised, fabricated, and embossed. The handle is formed and engraved. The thumbpiece, finial, and straps are cast. The foot has been reattached, and the finial is secured by later rivets. The surface is worn and pitted overall, and the gilding is flaking in several places on the cover. The short strap extending from the foot to the base of the handle has been repaired and may be a restoration.


Beginning in the thirteenth century, mounted coconut cups were highly prized in Europe, partly because it was believed that drinking from a coconut was beneficial to one’s health. An English silversmith added a cover, handle, and foot to transform this plain coconut into an elegant drinking vessel.

Markings

On rim near handle, on cover near finial, and on underside of base, maker's mark HK conjoined an ermine spot below in a shaped shield (similar to Jackson, 1921, p. 98; rev. ed. 1989, p. 95); leopard's head crowned; lion passant; date letter R (struck twice on base)

Provenance

Colonel Legh, High Legh Hall, Cheshire. March 22, 1906, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, lot 90, sold to Molineux. By 1928, Crichton Brothers, London; 1933, gift by anonymous donor in Memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour (1833–1914) to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 2, 1933)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour (1833-1914)