Delftware Cup (c. 1661)

© Victoria and Albert Museum.

Delftware Cup (c. 1661). © Victoria and Albert Museum.

This little delftware cup is decorated with a portrait of Charles II (1630-1685), and was probably made as a souvenir to commemorate his coronation in 1661. Cups like this one are among the earliest commemorative wares made in Britain. This was designed not just for display, but for the drinking of loyal toasts to the monarch.

This particular cup shape was exclusive to London, again suggesting that it was produced in the city as a souvenir of the coronation. The rough nature of the portrait means that this cup must have been cheap to buy.

Although the survival of this cup suggests that it was probably seldom used, there was a culture of loyalist drinking. On days of especial celebration, such as the coronation, loyal subjects would toast ‘bumpers’ of beer to the monarch’s health.