Rare17th century silver communion cup could fetch £30,000 at auction

A rare early 17th century silver communion cup could fetch up to £30,000 when it goes under the hammer.

The cup, dating from between 1619-1621, is being sold by Lyon & Turnbull on 16 August  and is valued at between £20,000 and £30,000.

It is one of five cups originally gifted by Alexander Seaton, a hugely influential figure in Scotland to Inveresk Church of Scotland in Musselburgh in East Lothian. 

Seton was Mary Queen of Scots’ godson and became the 1st Earl of Dunfermline in 1605. 

He represented her son, King James VI of Scotland, at the highest level in Scotland, and was heavily involved in the uniting of the two crowns of Scotland and England, forming what would become Great Britain. 

Following the Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century, commissions for Scottish silversmiths flourished making it an important period for Scottish silver and resulting in a distinctive style of communion silver.

The communion cup is of a particularly high quality and considered among the finest surviving examples.

Previously two of the cups – originally sold in 1999 by Inveresk Parish Church in East Lothian – went on to achieve in excess of £74,000 when sold by Lyon & Turnbull in 2011.

Kier Mulholland, Lyon & Turnbull’s silver specialist, said: ‘The overall shape and form, while restrained in design, shows great skill and quality in its creation. 

‘When you hold the piece it has a real presence owing to its exceptional quality and craftsmanship.  

‘We are delighted to offer this stunning piece of Scottish history and we’re excited to see what it fetches on the day.’

Credit: Lyon & Turnbull

Other items in the sale include a rare handwritten and notated book of 75 Scottish reels, a rare survivor from the formative period in which Scottish reels first began to be recorded and published. 

The manuscript belonged to Elizabeth Rose (1747 –1815), the 19th of Kilravock, situated between Inverness and Nairn. 

Robert Burns visited Elizabeth at Kilravock twice, in 1787 and 1788, and wrote afterwards to thank her for sending him the music for two reels he had heard during his stay there. 

The book is estimated at between £3,000 – £5,000.

There is also a bronze figure of Scottish literary giant, Robert Louis Stevenson, by Thomas J. Clapperton, which is being offered for sale at between £10,000 – £15,000. 

Credit: Lyon & Turnbull

Regarded now as The Border Sculptor, Clapperton studied at the Mechanic Institute, Galashiels, before completing his training at the Glasgow School of Art and Kensington School of Art.

His most renowned work is the sculpture of Robert the Bruce at Edinburgh Castle.

Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages. 

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.