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Not currently on display at the V&A


Place of origin

cacao pod, polished and carved, mounted in silver as a two-handled cup.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Brief description
Cacao pod carved with large, thistle-like flowers and leaves, with two silver handles and a silver foot, unmarked, Spanish American, 1700-1745.
Physical description
cacao pod, polished and carved, mounted in silver as a two-handled cup.
  • Foot to rim height: 11.2cm
  • Across rim of cup diameter: 6.2cm
  • Across underside of foot diameter: 7.1cm
  • Weight: 124g
Marks and inscriptions
  • Engraved round the rim of the cup, in English, in cursive script: 'The Louis Erasmus & Marquese D'Antin taken ye 10 July 1745. Lat. 43d. 50m. Charles Rogers Broker'
  • The crest of a woman in a long robe holding flowers is engraved on the tip of one of the leaf-shaped mounts securing the nut to the foot, beneath the inscription on the rim that reads 'Erasmus &'.
Gallery label
COCONUT CUP Mounted in silver-gilt. Inscribed: "THE LOUIS ERASMUS & MARQUESE D'ANTIN TAKEN Ye 10 JULY 1745 LAT 43d 5 On CHARLES ROGER BROKER." About 1745 W. T. Johnson Bequest. M.1658-1944(1970-1990)
Credit line
Bequeathed by W. J. Johnson, Esq.
Object history
The 'Louis Erasmus' and the 'Marquese D'Antin' were two French ships captured by the English during the War of the Spanish Succession, and this mounted coconut cup was part of the treasure recovered from them. A short letter by 'J.S.' on the successful capture of the ships published in the August 1745 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine explains that 'these ships went out four years ago to Peru and Chili, and had on board [...] one million sterling in gold and silver coin, besides 800 tons of cocoa, and we are every day discovering more treasure that has been concealed' (pp. 428-9). The V&A cup is not the only piece to survive from the haul. In 2000, a silver-gilt basin with a similar inscription was auctioned at Christie's, London (sale 6354, lot 21). The English did not manage to capture all the treasure, however. 'J.S.' recalls that there were numerous friars aboard the ships, 'one of whom threw a gold chalice into the sea of great value that it should not come into our hands' (p. 429).
Bibliographic references
  • Christie's London, Sale 6354, 5 July 2000, lot 21.
  • The Gentleman's Magazine, August 1745, vol. 15, pp. 418 and 428.
Accession number

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Record createdJune 24, 2009
Record URL
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