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Cup & saucer

  • Place of origin:

    Cambay (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Agate, shaped & polished using abrasives, most likely produced by turning on a bow-driven lathe, the engraving probably effected by use of an engraving disc or wheel.

  • Credit Line:

    W. H. Cope Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This cup and saucer would have been made primarily as an ornament rather than for use. Although agate is a tough and durable material, it is prone to crack when subjected to sudden and significant changes in temperature. Also, when worked to give fine edges or thicknesses, it is easily chipped or cracked when knocked. With this in mind, finely worked agate vessels that survive undamaged are uncommon.
The cup and saucer were made in Cambay (Khambhat), India in the 19th century with most of the fashioning process involving a combination of hand-working and turning on a bow-driven lathe.
Khambhat is situated at the northern end of the Gulf of Khambhat and was once an important trading centre for the region but this has waned as the harbour silted up. Despite having no stone deposits of its own, Khambhat is renowned for the craft of agate-working and especially bead-making, with the raw materials coming from more distant sources.

Physical description

A circular cup & saucer fashioned in pale beige to grey agate and all surfaces carry a good polish.
The cup has a short, recessed foot with rim and is decorated with regularly spaced, obliquely engraved channels on the outer face, bounded on the upper and lower ends by circumferential, engraved channels. The interior is smooth.
The saucer also has short recessed foot with rim and the upper surface is smooth while the underside has been decorated with obliquely engraves channels, bounded on the top and bottom by circumferential, engraved channels.

Place of Origin

Cambay (made)


19th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Agate, shaped & polished using abrasives, most likely produced by turning on a bow-driven lathe, the engraving probably effected by use of an engraving disc or wheel.


Diameter: 87.0 mm Cup (691-1903), Height: 41.5 mm Cup (691-1903), Thickness: 2.0 to 2.2 mm Cup (691-1903), Depth: 35.2 mm Cup (691-1903), Diameter: 41.2 to 42.0 mm Cup (691-1903), Depth: 2.5 mm Cup (691-1903), Diameter: 133.0 to 134.0 mm Saucer (691A-1903), Height: 16.0 to 18.0 mm Saucer (691A-1903), Thickness: 1.0 to 2.0 mm Saucer (691A-1903), Depth: 10.5 mm Saucer (691A-1903), Diameter: 81.9 to 83.6 mm Saucer (691A-1903), Depth: 2.5 mm Saucer (691A-1903)

Object history note

This cup and saucer were fashioned in Cambay (Khambhat), India in the 19th century. They were acquired by William Henry Cope Esq. who valued them at £5-15s. He bequeathed them to the museum in 1903.

Descriptive line

Cup and saucer, circular, beige to grey agate, engraved channel decoration, Cambay India, 19th century




Drinking; Food vessels & Tableware; Gemstones; Hardstone; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


South & South East Asia Collection

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