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Cup & saucer

  • Place of origin:

    Cambay (made)

  • Date:

    c. 1850 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Agate & moss agate, shaped and polished using abrasives, most probably fashioned by turning on a bow-driven lathe

  • Credit Line:

    Wells 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 round cup and saucer, each having a short recessed foot with rim and fashioned in moss agate with a good overall polish. The saucer has been broken & repaired and there is a chip to the cup's rim.

Place of Origin

Cambay (made)


c. 1850 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Agate & moss agate, shaped and polished using abrasives, most probably fashioned by turning on a bow-driven lathe


Diameter: 78.0 to 78.7 mm Cup (1584-1882), Height: 40.5 mm Cup (1584-1882), Thickness: 1.6 to 2.2 mm Cup (1584-1882), Depth: 37.0 mm Cup (1584-1882), Diameter: 33.7 mm Cup (1584-1882), Depth: 2.1 mm Cup (1584-1882), Diameter: 109.0 to 110.0 mm Saucer (1584A-1882), Height: 21.0 mm Saucer (1584A-1882), Thickness: 3.0 to 3.5 mm Saucer (1584A-1882), Depth: 14.0 mm Saucer (1584A-1882), Diameter: 1.7 to 2.6 mm Saucer (1584A-1882), Depth: 1.6 mm Saucer (1584A-1882)

Object history note

This cup and saucer were fashioned in Cambay (Khambhat), India in the 19th century and were acquired by Arthur Wells who was a Nottingham solicitor and Clerk of the Peace. He was a keen traveller and was made a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He is considered to be the first private British collector of Chinese jade and his collection of jade and other hardstone objects from South Asia was on exhibition at the South Kensington Museum at the time of his death in 1882. This collection was left to the museum in his will - the Wells Bequest.

Descriptive line

Circular cup and saucer, each with short recessed foot with rim, grey semi-translucent moss agate, saucer broken & repaired, Cambay India, c. 1850


Agate; Moss agate


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


South & South East Asia Collection

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