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Cup and cover

Cup and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Basel (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1678 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Biermann, Johann Jacob the younger (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt, cast and embossed

  • Museum number:

    2122:1, 2-1855

  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 69, The Whiteley Galleries, case 14 []

Cups decorated with lobes were popular in Germany in the 17th century. This cup, like the chalice beside it, consists of many different parts made separately and fitted onto each other. The bowl, lid and foot were all 'raised' by hammering a sheet of silver over a stake. The lobed effect was created by embossing (hammering the metal into relief from the underside). The floral decoration above the lid and around the stem is made by cutting notches into flat strips of silver and curling the cut edges to create the impression of petals. These would originally have been plain or 'white' silver. The fact that they are golden tells us that the whole cup was re-gilt at a later date.

Gilding was a very toxic process in which red-hot plates of gold were placed in an iron ladle filled with boiling mercury where they combined to make an amalgam. This was placed in a chamois leather bag and squeezed to remove most of the mercury, leaving a thick paste. This paste was then painted onto the object which was placed in a low oven to burn off the remaining mercury leaving a thin layer of gold.

Physical description

Gourd shaped cup and cover, with embossed bulbs and flowers, the stem cast in the form of a man holding a halberd, the cover surmounted by a warrior holding a shield, foot raised and embossed. The foot has been made out of a single piece of silver. Spool-shaped base on which the Swiss soldier stands; the figure itself cast and soldered together. The silver sheet decoration forming the corolla of the bowl is cut and curled.

Place of Origin

Basel (made)


ca. 1678 (made)


Biermann, Johann Jacob the younger (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt, cast and embossed

Marks and inscriptions

Johann Jacob Biermann the Younger
Maker's identification; On the rim of the foot and the lip of the cup

Town mark (Hallmark)


Diameter: 12.3 cm foot, Height: 53 cm, Length: 14.3 cm

Object history note

Purchase - Bernal Collection.

Manchester Art Treasures RF.2006/806

Descriptive line

Cup and cover, embossed, stem in the form of a man holding a halberd, cover surmounted by a warrior, Johann Jacob Biermann the younger, Basel, ca. 1678

Subjects depicted

Figures; Halberd; Shield




Metalwork Collection

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