A ENGLISH TURNED LIGNUM VITAE STANDING CUP AND COVER, MID-17TH CENTURY
the lid finial a spice box, the interior containing twelve turned tumbler cups and tasters with 'rose' decoration to each base
overall: 30cm. high, lid: 14.5cm. diameter; 1ft., 5¾in.
A superb example. Rare. Finial loose. Lid with stapled repair from old break. Some areas of re-polish. Age cracks to cup and some cups. Areas of old glue repairs.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
‘Spetchley Park -I. Worcestershire, The Seat of Mr. R. V. Berkeley', Country Life, 8 July 1916, p. 46, illustrated on the bookcase in the Drawing Room
This exquisite example of the wood turners' oeuvre is exceptionally rare and was a highly prized object at Spetchley as it would have been at the time of its creation. The timber was rare and very hard to work, certainly to the degree evidenced in the present lot. Samuel Pepys felt a gift in this material was worthy of note for his diary entry on the 21st of November 1660, he writes 'Lay long in bed this morning my cozen Thomas Pepys, the turner, sent me a cupp of lignum vitae'.
Elaborately turned wassail bowls and cups occasionally had accompanying tumblers, cups or 'dippers', perhaps less as a practical device and more to show the skill of the turner with a chisel and foot-lathe. Edward H. Pinto (Treen and Other Wooden Bygones, London, plate 26 and p.38, illustrates a slightly later example with graduated dipping cups, worked from a single block of lignum, like the offered lot. Pinto captions his illustration 'English dipper cups, which fit in a standing cup - a tour de force of the turner'.
The last important cup of this type to come to market, with integral 'dippers', was from the collection of W.J. Shepherd. See, Sotheby's London, 30 November-1 December 1983, lot 570. The Shepherd example featured only three integral cups and was illustrated on the front cover of that catalogue.
For related vessels with similar 'engine' turning see Owen Evan-Thomas, Domestic Utensils of Wood, Hertford, 1973, plate 4, 12A and 19.