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History of the Stirrup Cup

Most popular in the late 18th and 19th century, antique silver stirrup cups are a form of drinking vessel which were presented to riders on horseback prior to leaving or arriving home from a hunt; this happened whilst their feet remained in their stirrups. The custom is most commonly English, however Scottish hosts would also offer "a parting cup” to guests that visited on horseback. They called this beverage "dochan doruis" which literally translates to "drink of the door" and this would also be served in a stirrup cup.

Specifically crafted for comfort when held in the hand and without a base, their small capacity allowed the liquid to be drunk quickly. On occasions they would sit to a bespoke crafted tray to fit their unique shapes. The beverage served in the stirrup cup was usually wine or a spirit based punch mixed with various spices.

Early stirrup cups were essentially wine glasses without a base, as however their popularity grew silver stirrup cups were crafted in shapes that were relevant to the hunt, such as a hound or fox head. The rim of a stirrup cup would often be engraved with a motto or inscription from the hunt to commemorate the event.

stirrup cup history

The Stirrup-Cup - by Sidney Clopton Lanier (1842-1881)

Death, thou'rt a cordial old and rare:
Look how compounded, with what care!
Time got his wrinkles reaping thee
Sweet herbs from all antiquity.
David to thy distillage went,
Keats, and Gotama excellent,
Omar Khayyam, and Chaucer bright,
And Shakespeare for a king-delight.
Then, Time, let not a drop be spilt:
Hand me the cup whene'er thou wilt;
'Tis thy rich stirrup-cup to me;
I'll drink it down right smilingly.

Tampa, Florida, 1877.
(from Poems of Sidney Lanier , Edited by His Wife 1842-1881)

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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