A Rare Northern German Sycamore Maple ‘Wunderkammer’ Standing Covered Cup Containing a Finely Turned and Pierced Worked Goblet with an Intricate Spiralling Knopped Stem of Sycamore and Lignum the Lattice Worked Base with a Chamber Containing a Trapped Ball the Bowl Housing a Nest of One Hundred Very Thinly Turned Sycamore Dipper Cups the Base Marked with a Series of Etched X’s
Some small dipper cups missing
Late 17th Century
Size: 20.5cm high, 9cm dia. - 8 ins high, 3½ ins dia.
Cup: 18cm high, 6.5cm dia. (max) - 7 ins high, 2½ ins dia.
cf: The Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1737 Vol I pg. 324 illustrates a very similar example 771/409 that also has the multiple etched x marks to the base
A ‘tour de force’ of the court turner there are examples of these curious vessels in the Royal Danish Kunstkammer in Copenhagen, but are otherwise very rarely seen. Perhaps intended as precious spice cups they are more of a work of art than objects seriously meant for use. The accuracy of the individual turning and the extreme thinness of the nest of cups required great skill. In Joseph Moxon’s 1696 book of ‘Mechanick Exercises’ he describes engine and oval turning in detail, whilst the 1701 French author Charles Plumier in ‘L’Art de Tourner en Perfection’ illustrates the processes and nearly all the designs found on 17th century work and gives copious instructions for executing his ‘elite craft’.