Elizabeth I Silver Chalice dated 1569

Date: 1569

Country: England

Stock Number: 7543

An extremely rare early English chalice dating to the reign of Elizabeth I. It is quite remarkable to find a piece of silver of such an early date and especially in such 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 a flared top and would originally have had a cover (paten). The engraved arabesques to the body are typical for the period. The foot wire has stamped ornament of tongue and dart. Charming hand beaten finish as you'd expect at this date. Weight 231 grams, 7.4 troy ounces. Height 18.5 cms. Diameter – top 9 cms, foot 7.75 cms. Extremely good silver marks for London 1569. The makers mark letter "A" was entered in 1564/5 (Jacksons page 96). It's very rare for marks of this period to have a name associated with it*.

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.

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