Elizabeth I Silver Chalice


Stock: 9768

Date: 1573

Country: England

A rare early English silver wine cup dating to the reign of Elizabeth I. A very early date and in...

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A rare early English silver wine cup dating to the reign of Elizabeth I. A very early date and in good condition. This cup follows the standard design for Elizabethan communion cups and is most likely to have been made from pre-reformation silver. It has straight tapering sides, slightly flared at the top, and has a removable cover (paten). Charmingly hand beaten finish as you’d expect at this date. The hatched decorative bands below the top edge of the cup are typical for the period, repeated to the foot. The paten has a similar band of hatched ornament and bears the date 1575 which is consistent with the date of manufacture.

Contains 350 ml.
Weight of chalice 270 grams, 8.6 troy ounces.
Weight of paten 94 grams, 3.0 troy ounces.
Chalice dimensions – height 19.6cm, diameter of top 9cm.
Extremely good silver marks for London 1573.
Maker “IP” listed in Jackson’s Gold & Silver Marks as a known maker of communion cups.
Sterling silver.

Marks. Stamped on the rim of the cup with a full set of clear English silver hallmarks, foot unmarked. Although the paten has no silver hallmarks the inscribed date and engraved decoration are consistent with the cup Excellent patina.

Literature: Most parish churches in existence at this date would have had a chalice very similar to this. During the Reformation there was a return to a simpler, more direct form of worship. Protestants rejected the Roman Catholic belief in ‘transubstantiation’, the transformation of bread and wine during the Mass into the body and blood of Christ, and proposed instead a symbolic service of shared communion. In this, the congregation would regularly take wine as well as bread, whereas before they had been chiefly spectators.

The church authorities launched a programme from about 1560 to replace the ‘old massing chalices’ with ‘decent’ communion cups of prescribed design, such as this. The programme for refashioning old chalices was staggered from diocese to diocese over a period of about 15 years. The large and remote Welsh diocese of St David’s was one of the last to adopt the new form of communion cup.

Signed/Inscribed: *There are no precise records of silver makers marks prior to 1681 as all records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in that year when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down. From 1697 onwards Goldsmiths Hall has preserved a complete record of workmen’s marks, addresses, together with their names and the dates. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions. The first surviving record, after the fire at Goldsmiths Hall, is the 1682 copper plate made to start the recording process again. This has recently prompted a study by Dr David Mitchell, supported by Goldsmiths Hall, resulting in the publication of his 2017 “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. This reference work identifies previously unknown makers marks and assigns marks struck on existing plate to individuals (attributions for 540 separate marks).


The antique cup and cover are both in good condition. The engravings still have good definition and are typical of the period.

Maker Information

No maker assigned

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