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What's It Worth

What is it? A 5-inch-high sterling silver hunting cup by J.E. Caldwell & Co.

July 11, 1998|KATHY BRYANT

What's its history?

This cup was given to Newport Beach resident Dorothy Fribourg in 1943 by the dentist she worked for. It had been a present to him from a patient before World War I. "I've always wondered about its history," she says.

J.E. Caldwell & Co. is a Philadelphia jeweler and silversmith. It was founded in 1839 and remains active. The company has antiquarians on its staff and makes reproductions of historic pieces.

"This cup, with its powder-horn shape, bird-of-prey talons and medieval inscription, 'Here is Sir Conynbie, Come out of Normandie,' is probably based on a 17th century or earlier piece," guesses Dolly Simpson, manager of Castle Antiques in Costa Mesa. "It may have honored a French-English battle. Originally it was probably used to serve a quick drink before or after a hunt."

How was it made?

"This piece has 'sterling' marked on it, which means it's either American or Irish in origin," explains Simpson. "Other countries use symbols like lions' heads or kings' heads, not the word 'sterling.' That began in the mid-19th century in America."

The handcrafted cup was made in the middle of the last century, when wealthy Americans liked elaborate pieces such as this that were also prized by the Victorians.

What's it worth today?

Because of its rarity and the fact that it is made of sterling silver, Simpson says, the cup is worth from $450 to $500.

Where can I find it?

Antique stores dealing in fine silver may have something similar, but Simpson says she has never seen anything quite like this cup before. It might be possible to find another if it is part of a larger set.

"Millers' Understanding Antiques" by Judith and Martin Miller, (Reed International Books Limited, 1997, $27.95) offers a good overview of the antiques market.

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