Lot 5
  • 5

A YELLOW GOLD RACING CUP FOR THE EUROPEAN MARKET, CHINESE, CIRCA 1920 | A yellow gold racing cup for the European market, Chinese, circa 1920

7,000 - 10,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • 14.3cm., 5 5/8 in. high
the compressed circular bowl with handles formed as oak branches joined by chased oak leaves, the rim with an alternating floral and scroll pattern, spreading circular pedestal foot, Chinese maker's mark 天津物華 ('Tianjin wu hua), 750 gold mark


Associated literature: Adrien von Ferscht, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940. The Definitve Collectors' Guide, Glasgow, 2015

Catalogue Note

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinese-made trophy or racing cups like the present lot were mostly made in silver and presented on the occasion of sporting events held in the booming cities of Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong while under British colonial rule. The presentation of these racing cups built on an old English tradition, with horse racing dating as far back as the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. In fact, the earliest recorded sporting trophies were silver bells, awarded to the winners of the Carlisle Bell flat race, first held in 1599. More than a century later, Ascot racecourse was founded by Queen Anne and the British Jockey Club was established in 1750. Its Hong Kong equivalent followed in 1888, since horse racing, as one of the favourite sports of the English, was soon brought to the colonies - only four years after the occupation of Hong Kong Island in 1841, the Happy Valley race course was built as a place of equestrian entertainment. Rarely to be found in gold, the cup in the present lot merges Art Nouveau, Chinese and English influences, another allusion being the close association of the English oak with the Royal Navy, which once again might refer to the trading links between China and England reaching back as far as the early 17th century. For another example of similar form made in Canton, circa 1905, see the Peking Club Billiard Handicap cup, 1918, illustrated in Von Ferscht, vol. II, chapter maker L.S. The cultural transfer of the first decades of the 20th century was by no means limited to China and England, but also bears influences of other European countries such as Portugal, which had established a Portuguese trading post in Macau in South China in 1557. The so-called Lusitano Cup, a silver trophy cup by Wai Kee (fig. 1), symbolises the Portuguese connection with horse races in Hong Kong. Similarly to the Lusitano Cup, the present gold racing cup would probably have had an engraved presentation inscription.