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Not currently on display at the V&A

Wager Cup

ca. 1680 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Some wager cups tested the co-ordination of the drinker. This one required him to drink from the upturned skirt of the milkmaid without spilling liquid from her swinging pail below. It was later fitted with a clockwork mechanism so that the figure could roll upright along the table.

Outside the wealthiest court circles, 17th-century silver was used primarily for eating and drinking. The dining table was the heart of social activity, and novelty items were made for fashionable new drinks flavoured with spices and drinking games. The range of British silver for the home from this period (the first for which a representative quantity survives) demonstrates increasing foreign influences from France, the Netherlands and Portugal. The rising demand for fashionably decorated European silver from the 1660s onwards reflects Britain’s new wealth and political stability.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Raised and cast silver, engraved brass and clockwork mechanism
Brief Description
Wager cup, silver, brass and clockwork mechanism, England, ca.1680
Physical Description
Automaton in the shape of a woman in a long skirt, holding above her head a swinging cup supported by scroll brackets.The cup is chased with acanthus foliage and, on its base, a Tudor rose. The skirt, containing a clockwork automaton mechanism, and the baseplate are engraved with foliate.
Dimensions
  • Height: 17.7cm
  • Width: 9.3cm
  • Depth: 8.2cm
  • Weight: 500g
Scratch Weight (engraved on the lip of the swinging cup): 7-10
Marks and Inscriptions
Maker's mark RB with a mullet below; original scratch weight '7-10' at top of cup
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: Sale Important English Silver, Sotheby's, London, 17 October 1985, lot 381 "The Property of a Lady". Acquired by Arthur Gilbert from S.J. Phillips Ltd, London, 1985.
Summary
Some wager cups tested the co-ordination of the drinker. This one required him to drink from the upturned skirt of the milkmaid without spilling liquid from her swinging pail below. It was later fitted with a clockwork mechanism so that the figure could roll upright along the table.



Outside the wealthiest court circles, 17th-century silver was used primarily for eating and drinking. The dining table was the heart of social activity, and novelty items were made for fashionable new drinks flavoured with spices and drinking games. The range of British silver for the home from this period (the first for which a representative quantity survives) demonstrates increasing foreign influences from France, the Netherlands and Portugal. The rising demand for fashionably decorated European silver from the 1660s onwards reflects Britain’s new wealth and political stability.



Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.
Bibliographic References
  • Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby's 1985-1986. London; New York: Sotheby & Co., p. 262.
  • Smith, Eric J.G. 'Richard Blackwell & Son'. The Silver Society Journal, 2003, no. 14, pp.19, 25; image no. 7.
  • Schroder, Timothy. The Gilbert collection of gold and silver. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1988, cat. no. 28, pp. 122-4. ISBN.0875871445
Other Numbers
  • SG 205 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1996.700 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
  • GB 215 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1998.17 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.543-2008

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record createdJune 19, 2008
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