Vintage 1960's silver plate baby or Christening cup with a repoussé baby duck facing left into water reeds or cattails.and elegant heart-shaped handle with reeding. Extremely good condition with no dings, dents and just a few tiny areas of silver plate wear. Unmarked as to maker.
This vintage silver plate baby cup with duck measures 2.25" tall, 2.75" in diameter, 3.75" from the outside lip of the cup to the outside edge of the applied handle and weighs 2.8 ounces.
Since the Victorian era, one of the most popular Christening gifts for a baby boy has been a silver cup or silver tankard - a beautiful present that is often passed down from generation to generation. But why should such a seemingly utilitarian object become associated with such an important rite of passage?
Although the Christening cup became increasingly popular in Victorian times, the myths and tradition surrounding cups themselves have roots going back many thousands of years.
Drinking vessels have had a deep and enduring significance in people's lives since early prehistory. From the cups and jars used in Sumerian and Egyptian funeral rites to the Beaker and Celtic cultures of Western Europe, cups and goblets have been used for millennia to carry the ashes and remains of the dead, drink the blood of vanquished foes and seal binding vows.
Think of the cauldrons of the druids, the Vikings' horned cups and the Celtic quaich and it is plain that cups, tankards and goblets carry a significance way beyond their simple function. Then consider that sports teams compete for cups. The World Cup, the FA Cup, the Ryder Cup and the America's Cup are all fought over with passion and skill, but why are they competing for cups rather than forks, saucepans or kettles?
Part of the cup's legacy may come from the ritual of sharing a drink from a single cup, as in the Loving Cups and Grace Cups drunk at formal banquets and dinners. Trust and communal bonds are reaffirmed when drinking from the same cup and this is mirrored in the chalice and the Communion service in the Christian Church.
The Christening cup obviously has precedents from our distant past, which have been adopted over time and assumed a greater religious significance. From the concept of plenty - "My Cup Runneth Over" - in Psalm 23, to the cup of judgement and obligation in Christ's words in Gethsemane - "Let this cup pass from me" - the cup itself has a resonance throughout Christian tradition.
One of the world's most celebrated cups is the Holy Grail. This was the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper and later by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ's blood at the crucifixion. It features in Arthurian myth and countless legends, imbued as it was with great power.
So, perhaps the baby boy who receives a Christening cup on the day of his Baptism is receiving something more than a simple cup, he is receiving a Christening gift that reflects fundamental beliefs and traditions from our distant past.
A2594 - Vintage Silver Plate Baby or Christening Cup with Repousse Duck