Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Friday, 28 November 2008

Rare coronation cup is 'saved'

King James II Coronation cup
The cup was bought by the museum from a private collection

A King James II Coronation cup made from "recycled" silver has been bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The "extremely rare" piece was bought for 160,000 thanks to an 80,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and other donors.

Only eight such pieces of so-called "coronation silver" are known to have survived in any form.

V&A Director Mark Jones, said the cup, dating from 1685, was an "important" piece of the nation's heritage.

Gold cloth

The 13cm tall cup features engravings of four Chinoiserie figures, which were inspired by goods from Asia traded through the East India Company.

It is made from "recycled" silver that supported and decorated the canopies held over the heads of James and his Queen, Mary of Modena, during their coronation ceremony.

Traditionally these fittings, along with the cloth of gold canopy, were given to the barons who held them in the coronation procession.

Two of these barons - Cresheld Draper, MP for Winchelsea, who held the King's canopy, and Gawden Draper, who held the Queen's - combined their share of the gifted silver.

It was reformed into the cup in commemoration of their role in the coronation.

Mr Jones said: "We are grateful for the donations that have enabled the V&A to acquire this important piece of British heritage so we can display it with later coronation canopy bells similar to those from which this commemorative cup was made."

Other donors included the Art Fund (25,000) as well as the Friends of the V&A, the Hugh Phillips Bequest to the V&A, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and an anonymous donor.

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