Formed in the Portuguese fashion prevalent at the time,
and of heavy gauge silver,
the deep round lobed bowl of flowerhead form, with an embossed flowerhead to the interior,
the opening petal edges further "studded" with punch-beading;
sided by two beaded s-scroll foliate handles,
and raised on a short stem with bladed knop (Portuguese influence) and small circular foot;
one side of the bowl prick-engraved E over WH in the British manner.
Style : Throughout the 17th century, England had ambassadorial links and strong trade with Portugal,
as well as periodic restored alliance with Spain.
Along with that trade came the importation of wine, as Britain had proven too cool and damp for grapes.
Sometimes with the wine came a small silver footed Portuguese or Spanish "tasting cup"
to be passed around the table, and known as a
"bernegal - "a cup for drinking with a wide mouth and undulating form".
However, both this cup and its initialing have been defined as
"likely of English manufacture rather than Portuguese"-
citing the depth of punch decoration, and pricked initialing (no "W" in Portuguese).
Dating : Most 17th century small silver pieces (apart from spoons) remained unmarked.
'Further, during the 1649- 60 Commonwealth Period, most silver was melted
(for reasons of "austerity" and taxation for wars).
Thus exact maker and dating of this cup is not possible.
For a short time during the second half of the 17th century, England produced some small silver cups
( 4-5" high and without handles) as well as the flat-bottomed 2-handled "wine tasters".
However, the estimated date range for this handled tasting cup is Charles II,
or possibly earlier - from Charles I (d.1649) or Commonwealth periods and
contemporary with the popularity of the Portuguese bernegal.
Condition : Excellent for age,
with several expected minor repairs to the chasing and around the rim;
one handle likely with a small loss
2.5" High, 3.75" Diameter, 5" Over Handles / 4 oz.