Rare French sterling silver stirrup cup realistically modeled as a dog. Featuring exquisite Louis XVI styling to the decorative engraved border surrounding the cup, patterned with a musical and spring allegory that includes shepherd's pipes, laurel, garlands, flowers and ribbon bows. Crowned with a skillfully cast and hand chased head of a hound dog. The life like rendering presents with fine details and a richly textured finish to resemble fur. Impressive and ready for the hunt. Hallmarked with the French Minerve 1st standard mark, which guaranteed the finest quality French sterling silver of .950/1000 purity in use from 1838 (95% pure silver and a higher grade than the standard .925 for sterling). I am unable to find a silversmith's mark, likely camouflaged in the rich texture on the hound. In overall good condition with general wear commensurate with age and use. Measures 4 7/8" length x 2 1/8" diameter opening. Weighs 194 grams.
Equestrian fox hunters relate the term "Stirrup Cup" to the traditional toast to begin the festivities of a hunt. Stirrup cups, or parting cups, were often presented to a guest on horseback, whether departing or arriving home. Since stirrup cups generally have no base, they were sometimes served on a specially fitted tray with holes cut out to accommodate the footless cups. The presence of servants to hand the cup to the drinker was necessary, since the rider was already up in stirrups, and the contents were normally downed fairly quickly. The beverage served in them was often a wine or spirit-based punch, watered down and spiced to taste, now usually a port or sherry.
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