These three extremely rare cups form part of a small group of particularly early colonial silver and silver filigree items that seem to have been made in the Dutch East Indies, probably Batavia, around 1700. Such small personal items often were the property of Dutch colonial women, who formed the backbone of Dutch settlements at that time from Batavia to New York.
Each of these three cups comprises a solid silver body with flared, domed feet in silver filigree with engraved silver edging; silver filigree panels over the lower body; and domed, silver filigree lids with silver filigree and applied granulation finial pulls.
Each has been stamped with Dutch assay/tax marks for foreign-made silver. The Dutch stamps are useful evidence in support of Dutch East Indies origins for the three vessels. The marks were in use in Holland between 1814 and 1953. The marks do not imply manufacture or importing during this time; simply that the items were sold in Holland at some time during this period, as might have been the case for an estate sale.
The work on the cups relates to a small lidded box in the Rijksmuseum attributed to Batavia around 1700 – illustrated in Corrigan et al (2015, p. 98). The box belonged to Petronella van Hoorn (1698-1764) who returned to Amsterdam from Java in 1710. A similar box formed part of a lot sold at Christie’s London in 2017. And in 2016, Sotheby’s sold a rectangular box with similar work that was incorrectly catalogued as Indo-Portuguese India and attributed to the 17th-18th century.
Common factors among the group is the use of silver filigree within panels that are themselves pierced; the use of plain sheet silver in tandem with panels of filigree which are used over the plain silver; and the use of thicker silver wires that have been ribbed or ‘pearled’. Again, the Dutch tax marks for foreign silver on our examples also are important in helping to establish Dutch colonial origins.
The cups here are in excellent condition for their age, with only trivial losses to the filigree, and minor scuffing. They sit evenly without rocking and the lids of each fits well. They are museum quality items in terms of their fineness and rarity. We are not aware of any other examples of cups in this form, published or otherwise.
Corrigan, K., J. van Campen, & F. Diercks (eds.), Asian in Amsterdam: The Culture of Luxury in the Golden Age, Peabody Essex Museum/Rijksmuseum, 2015.
Krohn D.L. & P.N. Miller (eds.), Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick, Bard Graduate Center/The New York Historical Society/Yale University Press, 2009.