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{"id":5592412029078,"title":"Antique Indian Silver Three Handled Punch Bowl, Large Size, Calcutta (kolkata) – Circa 1900","handle":"antique-indian-silver-three-handled-punch-bowl-large-size-calcutta-kolkata-circa-1900","description":"\u003cp\u003eThis is a large, heavy and very unusual example of an Indian silver bowl.  It has three strong handles and an unusual wavy rim.  It was most probably intended as a punch bowl.  The walls of the bowl are thick and the exterior face is three dimensional,  comprising layers of protruding cubes, a shape sometimes referred to as a cube torus, resembling the popular quilter’s pattern known as ‘tumbling bricks’.   The style of the bowl could be described as modernist but the shape of the bowl, with its distinctive indented rim, may derive from the form of a traditional bowl known as a Monteith, a form of silver bowl which came into being in the late 17\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecentury. \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMonteith bowls would be filled with iced water and used to cool glasses.  The stems of the glasses were inserted between the indents of the rim with the feet to the outside of the container while the bowls of the glasses were suspended in and cooled by the iced water.  Later, they had more of a dual function and were also used as punch bowls.  Although opinion is divided, some believe that the word punch is derived from the Hindu word\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cem\u003epanch\u003c\/em\u003e, meaning five, as five ingredients, spirits, spices or tea, water, sugar and lemon, were traditionally used to create the mix.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe indents in the rim of this bowl could be used to support the handle of a ladle when it was not in use, preventing it from slipping down and into the bowl. The additional third handle would make it easier for two people to carry or manoeuvre.  The inspiration for the design of the body of the bowl is unknown but may have been a traditional Indian mandala, a crystalline formation or something as humble and mundane as a bowl full of sugar lumps or childrens’ building blocks, possibly even the Cubist art movement which was developing between 1907-14.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWhatever inspired the maker, multiple handled cups and bowls have a very long and interesting history and were popular throughout the ages in all parts of Europe, with a resurgence of popularity in Europe and America in the late 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003eand early 20\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecenturies.  They have been known by many different names such as Tyg\/ Tyge, Standing Cup, Pass Cup, Mazer, Wassail Bowl and Guild Cup amongst others and have been made in a vast range of materials including brass, copper, glass, pewter, stoneware, creamware, wood, wood with silver, brass or ivory inlay and there have been many silver examples.  The handles of this bowl are sturdy and of a distinctive shape which may derive from the shape of an angled section of a deer’s antler.  Antler handles were commonly used for, or represented on, the handles of this diverse family of vessels.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOriginally, these cups or bowls were intended as communal drinking vessels and large examples would hold enough refreshment for several people, making the design popular for presentation trophies at team sports competitions.   The romantic name of ‘loving cup’ was widely used in the nineteenth century, helping to popularise the form and small examples were often given as gifts and tokens of affection between friends.  The tradition came to an abrupt end around 1918 when the ravages of the Spanish Flu epidemic and the consequent fear of contagion made sharing vessels inappropriate.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eA charming legend describes a King called Henry, possibly Henry V of England or Henry IV of Navarre, is credited with inventing the multiple handled cup as a result of his own personal experience.  This story was published in a catalogue issued around 1900 by The Ceramic Art Company of Trenton, New Jersey. “As the story goes, he\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cem\u003e(King Henry)\u003c\/em\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ewas out hunting one day, when he became separated from his companions and rode alone in the forest until he was very thirsty. Suddenly he came upon a wayside inn and demanded a cup of wine, and in obedience to his imperial call, an awkward little serving maid came forward holding the cup by the handle in such a manner that when it was passed to the king, a portion of the wine was spilled on his majesty’s gloves.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eKing Henry rode away refreshed, but his soiled gloves set him thinking, with the result that he arrived at the conclusion that a cup with two handles would prevent a recurrence of the mishap, and as soon as possible he ordered such a cup made at one of the royal potteries and had it sent to the inn.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWhen next he stopped at the little hostelry and called for wine, he was served by the same little maid, who in passing the wine to his majesty, grasped both handles of the cup in fear and trembling, lest she break it. The astonished king lost another pair of gloves but found a way out of his perplexity by having a third handle added to the next cup which he sent to the inn.  “Surely,” he said, “out of three handles, I should be able to lay hold of one?” \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis legend may not be true but it does explain the logical purpose of the form and a third handle would be particularly useful when trying to move a bowl like this which, when filled with liquid when the weight would probably exceed 3 kilogrammes!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe maker’s mark to the underside of the base appears to have been overstruck but the underlying mark is still faintly readable, stating that it was made by G N Dutt, (Goopee Nath Dutt), one of the principal makers of Bowanipore, (possibly under a C K Chetty overstamp). Goopee Nath Datt has a reputation for creating unusual pieces of high quality  silverware.  He was part of a family of well known silversmiths operating in the area.  In the late 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecentury, there was a great deal of amalgamation and subsequent name changes of these workshops and the overstrike may be connected to such an event.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIn the second half of the nineteenth century, probably from the late 1860s onwards, a group of Indian silversmiths started to trade from the Calcutta suburb of Bhowanipore (Bovanipore). Most of the principals had previously trained within the grand European establishments of Calcutta, making goods for the local European community and in accordance with current European styles. These Bhowanipore workshops quickly became known for producing good quality silver in the European style at a competitive price, when compared to the city centre European establishments who were their previous employers.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e The Bhowanipore workshops used a very heavy gauge of sterling silver sheet metal which they imported directly from England and which required a great deal of time and effort to fashion. The objects they made have been described as ‘bomb proof’ by an expert, in that they would take many everyday knocks without showing the slightest sign of damage! This held a particular appeal to those affluent households employing a large number of, sometimes clumsy, servants.  The term would be an apt description of this substantial and extremely sturdy bowl.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883 featured a new, more Indian style of silver which emerged from the Bhowanipore workshops. This local style may have been created specifically for displaying at the Exhibition but after being praised by the judges it quickly became known as ‘Calcutta Style’ and the silver usually featured repousse scenes of rural and village life or illustrated local folk or religious stories. This new style became instantly popular and was a great commercial success, also helped by Calcutta’s rapid expansion.  Leading exponents were Grish Chunder Dutt, Goopee Nath Dutt, Dass \u0026amp; Dutt and C Krishniah Chetty.  The last is still trading today and is now one of India’s ‘Big Six’ jewellery houses, who are said to, between them, control India’s gold supply. By 1892, Calcutta was established as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, commercial centre in Asia and had become the second city of the British Empire, with a population of around 3.5 million, including 200,000 Europeans.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eProvenance:\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e -  UK art market\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e   Height 12 cms, Width 27 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e              1840 grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms,  W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003c\/p\u003e","published_at":"2020-08-09T23:28:23+01:00","created_at":"2020-08-09T23:28:21+01:00","vendor":"Joseph Cohen Antiques","type":"Punch Bowl","tags":["Sold Archive"],"price":0,"price_min":0,"price_max":0,"available":false,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":null,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":35689430057110,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":false,"name":"Antique Indian Silver Three Handled Punch Bowl, Large Size, Calcutta (kolkata) – Circa 1900","public_title":null,"options":["Default Title"],"price":0,"weight":0,"compare_at_price":null,"inventory_management":"shopify","barcode":""}],"images":["\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/2_2.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Z2T_3.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/YUQ3_4.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/MDYA_5.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/65U_6.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/H3ZYI_1.jpg?v=1597012104","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/UK8SJ_7.jpg?v=1597012104"],"featured_image":"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/2_2.jpg?v=1597012104","options":["Title"],"media":[{"alt":null,"id":10620897263766,"position":1,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/2_2.jpg?v=1597012104"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/2_2.jpg?v=1597012104","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897296534,"position":2,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Z2T_3.jpg?v=1597012104"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Z2T_3.jpg?v=1597012104","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897329302,"position":3,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/YUQ3_4.jpg?v=1597012103"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/YUQ3_4.jpg?v=1597012103","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897362070,"position":4,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/MDYA_5.jpg?v=1597012103"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/MDYA_5.jpg?v=1597012103","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897394838,"position":5,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/65U_6.jpg?v=1597012103"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/65U_6.jpg?v=1597012103","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897427606,"position":6,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/H3ZYI_1.jpg?v=1597012103"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/H3ZYI_1.jpg?v=1597012103","width":768},{"alt":null,"id":10620897460374,"position":7,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"width":768,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/UK8SJ_7.jpg?v=1597012103"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":768,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/UK8SJ_7.jpg?v=1597012103","width":768}],"content":"\u003cp\u003eThis is a large, heavy and very unusual example of an Indian silver bowl.  It has three strong handles and an unusual wavy rim.  It was most probably intended as a punch bowl.  The walls of the bowl are thick and the exterior face is three dimensional,  comprising layers of protruding cubes, a shape sometimes referred to as a cube torus, resembling the popular quilter’s pattern known as ‘tumbling bricks’.   The style of the bowl could be described as modernist but the shape of the bowl, with its distinctive indented rim, may derive from the form of a traditional bowl known as a Monteith, a form of silver bowl which came into being in the late 17\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecentury. \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eMonteith bowls would be filled with iced water and used to cool glasses.  The stems of the glasses were inserted between the indents of the rim with the feet to the outside of the container while the bowls of the glasses were suspended in and cooled by the iced water.  Later, they had more of a dual function and were also used as punch bowls.  Although opinion is divided, some believe that the word punch is derived from the Hindu word\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cem\u003epanch\u003c\/em\u003e, meaning five, as five ingredients, spirits, spices or tea, water, sugar and lemon, were traditionally used to create the mix.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe indents in the rim of this bowl could be used to support the handle of a ladle when it was not in use, preventing it from slipping down and into the bowl. The additional third handle would make it easier for two people to carry or manoeuvre.  The inspiration for the design of the body of the bowl is unknown but may have been a traditional Indian mandala, a crystalline formation or something as humble and mundane as a bowl full of sugar lumps or childrens’ building blocks, possibly even the Cubist art movement which was developing between 1907-14.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWhatever inspired the maker, multiple handled cups and bowls have a very long and interesting history and were popular throughout the ages in all parts of Europe, with a resurgence of popularity in Europe and America in the late 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003eand early 20\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecenturies.  They have been known by many different names such as Tyg\/ Tyge, Standing Cup, Pass Cup, Mazer, Wassail Bowl and Guild Cup amongst others and have been made in a vast range of materials including brass, copper, glass, pewter, stoneware, creamware, wood, wood with silver, brass or ivory inlay and there have been many silver examples.  The handles of this bowl are sturdy and of a distinctive shape which may derive from the shape of an angled section of a deer’s antler.  Antler handles were commonly used for, or represented on, the handles of this diverse family of vessels.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOriginally, these cups or bowls were intended as communal drinking vessels and large examples would hold enough refreshment for several people, making the design popular for presentation trophies at team sports competitions.   The romantic name of ‘loving cup’ was widely used in the nineteenth century, helping to popularise the form and small examples were often given as gifts and tokens of affection between friends.  The tradition came to an abrupt end around 1918 when the ravages of the Spanish Flu epidemic and the consequent fear of contagion made sharing vessels inappropriate.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eA charming legend describes a King called Henry, possibly Henry V of England or Henry IV of Navarre, is credited with inventing the multiple handled cup as a result of his own personal experience.  This story was published in a catalogue issued around 1900 by The Ceramic Art Company of Trenton, New Jersey. “As the story goes, he\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cem\u003e(King Henry)\u003c\/em\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ewas out hunting one day, when he became separated from his companions and rode alone in the forest until he was very thirsty. Suddenly he came upon a wayside inn and demanded a cup of wine, and in obedience to his imperial call, an awkward little serving maid came forward holding the cup by the handle in such a manner that when it was passed to the king, a portion of the wine was spilled on his majesty’s gloves.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eKing Henry rode away refreshed, but his soiled gloves set him thinking, with the result that he arrived at the conclusion that a cup with two handles would prevent a recurrence of the mishap, and as soon as possible he ordered such a cup made at one of the royal potteries and had it sent to the inn.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWhen next he stopped at the little hostelry and called for wine, he was served by the same little maid, who in passing the wine to his majesty, grasped both handles of the cup in fear and trembling, lest she break it. The astonished king lost another pair of gloves but found a way out of his perplexity by having a third handle added to the next cup which he sent to the inn.  “Surely,” he said, “out of three handles, I should be able to lay hold of one?” \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis legend may not be true but it does explain the logical purpose of the form and a third handle would be particularly useful when trying to move a bowl like this which, when filled with liquid when the weight would probably exceed 3 kilogrammes!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe maker’s mark to the underside of the base appears to have been overstruck but the underlying mark is still faintly readable, stating that it was made by G N Dutt, (Goopee Nath Dutt), one of the principal makers of Bowanipore, (possibly under a C K Chetty overstamp). Goopee Nath Datt has a reputation for creating unusual pieces of high quality  silverware.  He was part of a family of well known silversmiths operating in the area.  In the late 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e\u003cspan\u003e \u003c\/span\u003ecentury, there was a great deal of amalgamation and subsequent name changes of these workshops and the overstrike may be connected to such an event.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIn the second half of the nineteenth century, probably from the late 1860s onwards, a group of Indian silversmiths started to trade from the Calcutta suburb of Bhowanipore (Bovanipore). Most of the principals had previously trained within the grand European establishments of Calcutta, making goods for the local European community and in accordance with current European styles. These Bhowanipore workshops quickly became known for producing good quality silver in the European style at a competitive price, when compared to the city centre European establishments who were their previous employers.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e The Bhowanipore workshops used a very heavy gauge of sterling silver sheet metal which they imported directly from England and which required a great deal of time and effort to fashion. The objects they made have been described as ‘bomb proof’ by an expert, in that they would take many everyday knocks without showing the slightest sign of damage! This held a particular appeal to those affluent households employing a large number of, sometimes clumsy, servants.  The term would be an apt description of this substantial and extremely sturdy bowl.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883 featured a new, more Indian style of silver which emerged from the Bhowanipore workshops. This local style may have been created specifically for displaying at the Exhibition but after being praised by the judges it quickly became known as ‘Calcutta Style’ and the silver usually featured repousse scenes of rural and village life or illustrated local folk or religious stories. This new style became instantly popular and was a great commercial success, also helped by Calcutta’s rapid expansion.  Leading exponents were Grish Chunder Dutt, Goopee Nath Dutt, Dass \u0026amp; Dutt and C Krishniah Chetty.  The last is still trading today and is now one of India’s ‘Big Six’ jewellery houses, who are said to, between them, control India’s gold supply. By 1892, Calcutta was established as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, commercial centre in Asia and had become the second city of the British Empire, with a population of around 3.5 million, including 200,000 Europeans.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eProvenance:\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e -  UK art market\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e   Height 12 cms, Width 27 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e              1840 grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms,  W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003c\/p\u003e"}

Antique Indian Silver Three Handled Punch Bowl, Large Size, Calcutta (kolkata) – Circa 1900

Product Description

This is a large, heavy and very unusual example of an Indian silver bowl.  It has three strong handles and an unusual wavy rim.  It was most probably intended as a punch bowl.  The walls of the bowl are thick and the exterior face is three dimensional,  comprising layers of protruding cubes, a shape sometimes referred to as a cube torus, resembling the popular quilter’s pattern known as ‘tumbling bricks’.   The style of the bowl could be described as modernist but the shape of the bowl, with its distinctive indented rim, may derive from the form of a traditional bowl known as a Monteith, a form of silver bowl which came into being in the late 17th century. 

Monteith bowls would be filled with iced water and used to cool glasses.  The stems of the glasses were inserted between the indents of the rim with the feet to the outside of the container while the bowls of the glasses were suspended in and cooled by the iced water.  Later, they had more of a dual function and were also used as punch bowls.  Although opinion is divided, some believe that the word punch is derived from the Hindu word panch, meaning five, as five ingredients, spirits, spices or tea, water, sugar and lemon, were traditionally used to create the mix.

The indents in the rim of this bowl could be used to support the handle of a ladle when it was not in use, preventing it from slipping down and into the bowl. The additional third handle would make it easier for two people to carry or manoeuvre.  The inspiration for the design of the body of the bowl is unknown but may have been a traditional Indian mandala, a crystalline formation or something as humble and mundane as a bowl full of sugar lumps or childrens’ building blocks, possibly even the Cubist art movement which was developing between 1907-14.

Whatever inspired the maker, multiple handled cups and bowls have a very long and interesting history and were popular throughout the ages in all parts of Europe, with a resurgence of popularity in Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  They have been known by many different names such as Tyg/ Tyge, Standing Cup, Pass Cup, Mazer, Wassail Bowl and Guild Cup amongst others and have been made in a vast range of materials including brass, copper, glass, pewter, stoneware, creamware, wood, wood with silver, brass or ivory inlay and there have been many silver examples.  The handles of this bowl are sturdy and of a distinctive shape which may derive from the shape of an angled section of a deer’s antler.  Antler handles were commonly used for, or represented on, the handles of this diverse family of vessels.

Originally, these cups or bowls were intended as communal drinking vessels and large examples would hold enough refreshment for several people, making the design popular for presentation trophies at team sports competitions.   The romantic name of ‘loving cup’ was widely used in the nineteenth century, helping to popularise the form and small examples were often given as gifts and tokens of affection between friends.  The tradition came to an abrupt end around 1918 when the ravages of the Spanish Flu epidemic and the consequent fear of contagion made sharing vessels inappropriate.

A charming legend describes a King called Henry, possibly Henry V of England or Henry IV of Navarre, is credited with inventing the multiple handled cup as a result of his own personal experience.  This story was published in a catalogue issued around 1900 by The Ceramic Art Company of Trenton, New Jersey. “As the story goes, he (King Henry) was out hunting one day, when he became separated from his companions and rode alone in the forest until he was very thirsty. Suddenly he came upon a wayside inn and demanded a cup of wine, and in obedience to his imperial call, an awkward little serving maid came forward holding the cup by the handle in such a manner that when it was passed to the king, a portion of the wine was spilled on his majesty’s gloves.

King Henry rode away refreshed, but his soiled gloves set him thinking, with the result that he arrived at the conclusion that a cup with two handles would prevent a recurrence of the mishap, and as soon as possible he ordered such a cup made at one of the royal potteries and had it sent to the inn.

When next he stopped at the little hostelry and called for wine, he was served by the same little maid, who in passing the wine to his majesty, grasped both handles of the cup in fear and trembling, lest she break it. The astonished king lost another pair of gloves but found a way out of his perplexity by having a third handle added to the next cup which he sent to the inn.  “Surely,” he said, “out of three handles, I should be able to lay hold of one?” 

This legend may not be true but it does explain the logical purpose of the form and a third handle would be particularly useful when trying to move a bowl like this which, when filled with liquid when the weight would probably exceed 3 kilogrammes!

The maker’s mark to the underside of the base appears to have been overstruck but the underlying mark is still faintly readable, stating that it was made by G N Dutt, (Goopee Nath Dutt), one of the principal makers of Bowanipore, (possibly under a C K Chetty overstamp). Goopee Nath Datt has a reputation for creating unusual pieces of high quality  silverware.  He was part of a family of well known silversmiths operating in the area.  In the late 19th century, there was a great deal of amalgamation and subsequent name changes of these workshops and the overstrike may be connected to such an event.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, probably from the late 1860s onwards, a group of Indian silversmiths started to trade from the Calcutta suburb of Bhowanipore (Bovanipore). Most of the principals had previously trained within the grand European establishments of Calcutta, making goods for the local European community and in accordance with current European styles. These Bhowanipore workshops quickly became known for producing good quality silver in the European style at a competitive price, when compared to the city centre European establishments who were their previous employers.

 The Bhowanipore workshops used a very heavy gauge of sterling silver sheet metal which they imported directly from England and which required a great deal of time and effort to fashion. The objects they made have been described as ‘bomb proof’ by an expert, in that they would take many everyday knocks without showing the slightest sign of damage! This held a particular appeal to those affluent households employing a large number of, sometimes clumsy, servants.  The term would be an apt description of this substantial and extremely sturdy bowl.

The Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883 featured a new, more Indian style of silver which emerged from the Bhowanipore workshops. This local style may have been created specifically for displaying at the Exhibition but after being praised by the judges it quickly became known as ‘Calcutta Style’ and the silver usually featured repousse scenes of rural and village life or illustrated local folk or religious stories. This new style became instantly popular and was a great commercial success, also helped by Calcutta’s rapid expansion.  Leading exponents were Grish Chunder Dutt, Goopee Nath Dutt, Dass & Dutt and C Krishniah Chetty.  The last is still trading today and is now one of India’s ‘Big Six’ jewellery houses, who are said to, between them, control India’s gold supply. By 1892, Calcutta was established as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, commercial centre in Asia and had become the second city of the British Empire, with a population of around 3.5 million, including 200,000 Europeans.

Provenance: -  UK art market

Dimensions:-   Height 12 cms, Width 27 cms

Weight:-              1840 grammes

References:-

Wynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms,  W Wilkinson & Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997

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